Without Brand, Sixers come up short against Grizzlies

Posted: February 21, 2012

MEMPHIS - The drought lasted too long and the deficit grew too wide. The 76ers started the game by missing 14 of their first 17 shots while allowing the Memphis Grizzlies to make 11 of their first 15. And no matter how valiant their effort was to overcome a lead that grew to as many as 21 in the first quarter, there just wasn't enough time, or healthy bodies, to get the Sixers a come-from-behind win.

Playing without Elton Brand, who reinjured his right thumb, the Sixers couldn't overcome that slow start and lost, 89-76. It was fourth straight loss and sixth in eight games.

The Sixers, who play at Houston tonight in their final game before the All-Star break, are now 20-13. Memphis improved to 19-15.

Coach Doug Collins, in an effort to bring some spark to an offense that has been anemic lately, started seldom-used forward Andres Nocioni. It didn't help as the team was outscored 30-10 in the first quarter. It was the seventh time in the past 15 quarters that the Sixers had scored less than 18 points.

As is their custom, the Sixers fought back and got to within three points late in the second quarter before Memphis made it 47-42 at the break.

Looking to keep the momentum going in the third, Collins started Evan Turner and Tony Battie in favor of Jodie Meeks and Nocioni, but the Sixers still couldn't find their offense, scoring just 18 in the quarter.

Once again the Sixers' inability to get the foul line hurt them as they made only six of eight compared to Grizzlies' 21 of 29.

Jrue Holiday led the Sixers with 22 points, while Lavoy Allen added 14 and Andre Iguodala collected 11 points, seven assists and five rebounds. The Sixers got only 21 points from their bench, down from their season average of close to 44. Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams combined to go 5-for-24 from the field.

"We don't shoot free throws," said Collins. "If you don't get to the foul line it puts all kinds of pressure on you. Now you've got to shoot a high percentage from the floor or from the three. If we don't get to the foul line it's going to be a struggle to score points. [Then] you've got to get points off turnovers.

"You've got to find a way to do that [get to line]. We told our guys that they've got to get into the paint. We've got to hope that if we keep getting that ball into the paint we'll get to the foul line."

Marc Gasol led a balanced Memphis offense with 15 points. He also collected 14 rebounds and seven assists. Rudy Gay added 14 points, while former Sixer Marreese Speights added 12.

For more Sixers coverage, read the Daily News' Sixers blog, Sixerville, at www.philly.com/Sixerville.

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