Grizzlies hand 76ers 117-95 defeat

Tony Wroten of the Sixers fights for a rebound with Zach Randolph of the Grizzlies.
Tony Wroten of the Sixers fights for a rebound with Zach Randolph of the Grizzlies. (NIKKI BOERTMAN / The Commercial Appeal)
Posted: April 13, 2014

MEMPHIS - It was just the 76ers' way.

In a homecoming for several team members, the Sixers were unable to sustain their effort throughout the game. The Memphis Grizzlies, meanwhile, basically did whatever they wanted.

Marc Gasol finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds, handing the Sixers a 117-95 loss at FedExForum on Friday night.

This outcome was expected given the teams' circumstances.

The Sixers' tank job of a season has been well-documented. This latest setback dropped them to 17-62. It was their 31st loss in 33 games.

The Grizzlies, on the other hand, are 47-32 and battling for a playoff spot. They headed into Friday one game behind the Phoenix Suns for the Western Conference's eighth and final playoff berth.

So the team in desperate need of a win decided the outcome in the third quarter.

"I just felt like we were in the game at that point," Sixers coach Brett Brown said, referring to Thaddeus Young's three-pointer that cut the lead to 63-57 with 7 minutes, 8 seconds left in the quarter.

Shortly afterward, the power forward passed up a wide-open three, and that opened the floodgates. The Grizzlies took a commanding, 87-64 lead after ending the quarter on a 24-7 run. Memphis extended its cushion to 27 points in the fourth quarter of a game it never trailed.

As a result, most of the night's excitement for the Sixers surrounded the homecoming for the players with Memphis ties.

Young, reserve guard Elliot Williams, and reserve swingman Adonis Thomas all hail from the River City. Reserve post player Jarvis Varnado is from nearby Brownsville.

Two other Sixers - Tony Wroten and assistant coach Lloyd Pierce - also have Memphis ties. Wroten was drafted by the Grizzlies in 2012 before being traded to the Sixers in August. Pierce spent the last two seasons as a Grizzlies assistant.

The homecoming group would have been larger if not for Arnett Moultrie's serving a five-game suspension for violating the league's antidrug program. The reserve power forward played high school ball in Memphis.

"Admittedly that's a high number of people that have an association or link to this city," Brown said before the game. "Each game, as we wind down the season, presents different opportunities and different ways for a coach to motivate. And everyone wants to do well when they come back to a place where they had an association with."

As a seven-year veteran, Young was facing the Grizzlies for the seventh time in front of his home crowd. The 6-foot-8, 230-pounder, who lives in a Memphis suburb during the offseason, bought 20 tickets for the game.

"It's great to be home," said Young, who finished with 18 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals. "I didn't do too much [Thursday night]. I just pretty much went and got me some Tops barbecue, one of the places I love so dearly that we don't have in Philly."

Thomas, a former University of Memphis standout who is on a 10-day contract with the Sixers, received an ovation when he entered the game with 7:53 remaining.

He finished with four points on 2-for-3 shooting in his first appearance as a Sixer. In the process, Thomas became the 23d Sixer to see action this season. He said about 25 family members and friends purchased tickets.

Williams (13 points) had around 10 tickets.

 "I have 50 people who purchased tickets," said Varnado (six points).

Wroten finished with 18 points and three assists against his former team.


kpompey@phillynews.com

@PompeyOnSixers

www.inquirer.com/deepsixer

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