Wed, 01 Feb 2023

Grizzlies, Sixers looking for return to win column

Field Level Media
02 Dec 2022, 09:55 GMT+10

Two teams eager to bounce back from a pair of ugly losses meet on Friday when the Memphis Grizzlies face the visiting Philadelphia 76ers.

Philadelphia had its three-game winning streak snapped on Wednesday by the Cleveland Cavaliers, who led by 33 points in the fourth quarter in a 113-85 rout. The Sixers were playing their sixth game in the span of nine days.

"We just didn't have anything," Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers said. "It was, you know, it was a schedule loss. That's how I felt. You could see guys had no energy, no legs."

Memphis suffered a similar fate on Wednesday, losing 109-101 to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a sloppy game that featured seven technical fouls.

After averaging 129.5 points in back-to-back wins over the New Orleans Pelicans and the New York Knicks, the Grizzlies had a season-high 27 turnovers and missed 12 free throws against Minnesota.

"They were loading the paint a lot. Kudos to them. They've got great defenders over there," Memphis guard David Roddy said. "They were just really active from the jump."

Ja Morant is averaging 28.2 points, 7.6 assists and 6.3 rebounds to lead the Grizzlies, who will play six of their next seven games at home.

Morant scored 24 points in the loss to Minnesota but committed seven turnovers.

The Grizzlies will see a familiar face on Friday in guard De'Anthony Melton, who spent three seasons with Memphis before being traded in June to the Sixers for Danny Green and a first-round pick that turned into Roddy.

Philadelphia has leaned heavily on Melton following injuries to star James Harden and guard Tyrese Maxey.

Harden, who has been out with a right foot tendon strain since Nov. 2, could return as soon as Monday against the Houston Rockets. Maxey (left foot fracture) is expected back in mid-December.

Melton is averaging 11.8 points, 3.8 assists, and 2.3 steals this month while adjusting to a more prominent role in the starting lineup. He has multiple steals in seven straight games.

"De'Anthony is a very easy guy to play with, but I don't think he loves being the primary ballhandler at times," Rivers said. "We told him if you want to get respect in the locker room, go out and stop somebody. De'Anthony has done that."

Philadelphia center Joel Embiid has averaged 24.5 points in two games since missing four straight with a sprained left foot.

The Sixers are monitoring the status of forward Tobias Harris, who exited Wednesday's game early in the fourth quarter because of an illness.

Harris averaged 23 points over his previous five games, but he was held to three points while missing all seven field goal attempts in the loss to Cleveland.

Rivers is preparing for a physical battle against the Grizzlies. He said they remind him of the "Grit and Grind" Memphis teams in the early 2010s that included Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.

"They're just deep," Rivers said. "They're long, they play hard, they've got a lot of grit, you know? They're an athletic version of the Grit and Grind team. Their same grittiness, but now they're athletic as well."

--Field Level Media

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