It is hard to win away from home in the NBA.
Winning becomes even harder for an away team when the home team features the two best talents among the two rosters playing against each other.
However, achieving a road win in the NBA likely becomes one of the hardest things to accomplish in sports when the Furkan Korkmaz types of the world perform at a level that would make Steph Curry jealous.
Sure, the Grizzlies arrived in Philadelphia with a limited roster and young players that were likely still processing the fallout from the NBA trade deadline. However, while Memphis was able to stay with the 76ers during the first quarter, the Grizzlies simply could never find their rhythm until the game was already decided. Shooting struggles and a fatal dose of Furkan’s fury resulted in the Grizzlies losing for just the fourth time in over a month.
The 76ers started the game with a 6-0 run, until Jaren Jackson Jr. got Memphis on the board with a needed three pointer. Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, that would be the only early contribution from Jackson Jr., as he would take a seat with two fouls less than four minutes into the contest. Fortunately, Memphis would find their form in the paint, and made the score 12-10 as the 76ers took their first timeout. Brandon Clarke and De’Anthony Melton would allow the Grizzlies to earn their biggest lead of the night at 16-14 out of the timeout, but the rest of the quarter became the Furkan and Tyus show. After the timeout, Korkmaz scored seven of the 76ers remaining 14 points while Tyus Jones scored eight of the Grizzlies’ remaining 15 points in the quarter. The end result the 76ers leading 26-25 after one quarter.
Josh Jackson got the scoring started in the second quarter off a Ja Morant assist, but Tobias Harris had a quick answer for Philadelphia. Both teams would struggle over the next four minutes, as they scored just eight points combined. That drought ended thanks to another three from Furkan, putting the 76ers ahead by four. Though baskets from Dillon Brooks and Melton would cut the lead back to two, Korkmaz again hit a three to make the score 40-35.
Brooks would have to take a seat with three early fouls of his own halfway through the second quarter. Two Ben Simmons baskets and another Korkmaz three gave the 76ers a 47-39 lead. Morant would find a bit of rhythm with four points in a 20 second span, but another Simmons basket made the score 49-42 with two minutes left in the first half. Unfortunately, this was likely the turning point of the game, as Simmons and Korkmaz again took over with four points each in the final 90 seconds of the second quarter. The end result was a 58-44 halftime lead for Philadelphia.
While the Grizzlies have been among the best third quarters teams over the past two months in the NBA, Friday night more closely resembled the second half struggles that plagued Memphis early this season. Brooks made the first shot of the second half, but Philadelphia would counter immediately with the game’s knockout blow. The 76ers generated a 24-7 run over the next five minutes of the third quarter, led by 11 points from Harris. The game quickly became out of hand, as the the score was now 82-53 in favor of Philadelphia. Clarke would help the Grizzlies stay with the 76ers for the rest of the quarter, as he scored nine points over a four minute span. However, Philadelphia actually extended their lead by the end of the third quarter, as they were now ahead 97-66.
The Grizzlies surrendered 39 points in the third quarter, including allowing the 76ers to make six of nine shots from beyond the arc. Memphis simply could not prevent the 76ers from scoring at will, while also not being able to find a groove of their own. However, though the game was already decided, Memphis did not give up as the final quarter started. Brooks, Jonas Valanciunas and Morant led Memphis to an 11-0 start to the fourth quarter, making the score 97-77 with 8:32 left in the game. A scary moment via a Josh Richardson flagrant foul on Josh Jackson thankfully was resolved quickly by the two players and led to two Jackson free throws to help the Grizzlies surge.
The Grizzlies would continue to chip away at the lead, but could never get another run going as Al Horford contributed a couple of scores to maintain the Philadelphia advantage. Memphis did cut the deficit to 16 as the 76ers called for a timeout with six minutes left. However, a familiar face officially called game immediately as play resumed. Korkmaz scored seven points over the next 95 seconds of game time, pushing the 76ers lead back to 22. Though Memphis would outscore Philadelphia 19-9 over the rest of the game, it was too late. Once the game ended, the 76ers earned a 119-107 victory.
The Grizzlies’ starters had obvious issues throughout the game. Early foul trouble for Jackson Jr. and Brooks likely contributed to the struggles. However, Philadelphia’s elite defense held the Memphis starting unit to just 18 field goals on 48 attempts. Impressive efforts from Jones and Clarke could not overcome the struggles, as the Grizzlies shot just 40.9% from the field, including only five makes on 21 three point attempts.
Despite the off-night offensively, it may not have mattered even if the Grizzlies were making their shots. Highly efficient nights from Harris and Simmons significantly helped the 76ers pull away during the second and third quarters. However, it was a career night from Korkmaz that truly made the difference. 34 points (surpassing his previous career high by 10 points) while shooting 13-17 from the field and 6-9 from beyond the arc in 29 minutes was one of the best performances by a Grizzlies’ opponent this season. His offensive outburst was proof Friday night was simply not meant to be for Memphis.
Every team in the NBA has multiple nights like this each season. The key, especially for a young team like Memphis, is to not let the impact linger. With a much easier opponent in Washington on Sunday, the Grizzlies must regroup quickly to earn an expected but needed victory.