For better or worse, if there’s one thing that Grizzlies fans have gotten used to over the years it’s ugly games that only a Memphian could love. That description is certainly apt for the display put on by the Memphis Grizzlies and Philadelphia Sixers in FedExForum Tuesday night.
Memphis shot only 38 percent from the field and connected on just 2-17 three-point attempts, but clutch plays down the stretch saw the Grizzlies escape with a tight 96-91 victory. They are now riding a four-game winning streak. Here’s three things to know from a basketball game that was tough to watch:
1) The Sixers Were Short-Handed
It’s no secret that the Grizzlies have been dealing with a multitude of injuries, most notably Mike Conley’s fractured vertebrae, but at least for the night Philadelphia may have been even more limited. Rookie of the Year leader Joel Embiid was out for rest since the Sixers were on the second night of a back-to-back, and the team was also without Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Robert Covington, and Jerryd Bayless due to various conditions and ailments.
With only nine players available, long-time journeyman Ersan Ilyasova led the way for Philadelphia with a 23-point, 17-rebound performance — both numbers season highs. Rookie Dario Saric was also key off the bench, scoring 17 points on 6-12 shooting, including three makes from behind the arc.
2) Z-Bo’s Return
Zach Randolph missed the Grizzlies’ last seven games as he was away from the team following the passing of his mother, but made his return mid-way through the first quarter to a roaring ovation.
Z-Bo didn’t have the most productive of outings, shooting just 5-16 overall and missing two critical free throws in the final minute, but he was a strong presence on the glass with a team-high 14 rebounds. It was also just good to see him back in the flow of things following such a devastating personal loss, and his play should only improve as he gets back into playing shape.
3) Marc Gasol Has Had an Insane 24 Hours
Both games on the Grizzlies’ back-to-back stretch were settled by narrow margins, and Memphis was able to come out on top in each contest due in large part to the play of Marc Gasol. The Spaniard notched his first triple-double of the season with 28 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists against the Pelicans Monday night, and then showed no signs of fatigue as he led the Grizzlies with 26 points and 12 rebounds in the win over Philadelphia.
It was a much-needed performance, considering the struggles of several other important players. Troy Daniels has ignited the Memphis offense as of late, but shot 4-14 from the field and 1-8 from three in the win, while point guard Andrew Harrison scored only two points on 1-9 shooting.