"It's simple to me what's not happening," reserve guard Lou Williams said after scoring eight points on just 3-for-11 shooting. "We're just not competing at our highest level now and we're getting beat. We're not playing to the best of our abilities.
"Whether you want to blame it on injuries or any of that, at the end of the day we are not competing at the highest level and it's shown in our last four," Williams said.
The Sixers, already playing without starting center Spencer Hawes, were forced to go without power forward Elton Brand in the starting lineup. Brand injured his strained right thumb in the waning moments of the Sixers' loss Sunday at Minnesota and will not return until after the break, probably when the team plays at Detroit on Tuesday to start the second half of the season.
In Brand's place, the Sixers went with Andres Nocioni. Making his first start of the season, Nocioni looked rusty and contributed just two points.
Jrue Holiday led the Sixers with 22 points. However, he was just one of three players to score in double figures. Rookie Lavoy Allen added 14 points, and Andre Iguodala finished with 11 points and seven assists.
The Sixers were uncharacteristically sloppy with the ball, committing 14 turnovers that led to 24 points for the Grizzlies.
And the disturbing trend of not getting any whistles continued. Minnesota took 16 more free throws than the Sixers on Sunday, and the Grizzlies went 21 for 29 from the free-throw line while the Sixers took just eight free throws, making six.
Had they not gotten out to such a poor start, they still might have been able to stop their skid.
"Well, it was a horrible start," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "We dug ourselves a huge hole. We fought out but just made mistakes at the wrong time. We hold a team under 40 percent shooting. But we are struggling mightily to score."
The Sixers cut the lead to 80-74 on an Allen hook shot with a little more than four minutes remaining in the game.
But the Grizzlies put the game out of reach with a pair of Tony Allen free throws that followed Rudy Gay's three-pointer that pushed the Memphis lead to 86-74 with 1 minute, 47 seconds left in the game.
Marc Gasol led the Grizzlies with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Gay added 14 points and pulled down seven rebounds.
Former Sixer Marreese Speights, traded to the Grizzlies on Jan. 4, finished with 12 points.
Contact staff writer John N. Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org or @JmitchInquirer on Twitter.