Friday, January 28, 2011

Sixers suffer another collapse against Grizzlies

Philadelphia - In a season filled with late-game collapses, this might have been the worst.

The Sixers blew a 21-point third quarter lead and lost to the Memphis Grizzlies, 99-94, in front of 14,289 stunned fans at Wells Fargo Center.

Philadelphia, which was shooting for a season-high fourth straight win, committed 11 of its 22 turnovers and was outscored 42-21 in the fourth quarter en route to their sixth end of game implosion in 2010-11.

The real turning point in the game, however, came in the third after the Sixers had built their large lead. Memphis coach Lionel Hollins, a former Sixer, went to little used center Hasheem Thabeet and the 7-foot-3 former UConn star, who has largely been a bust since being taken second overall in the 2009 draft, dominated things in the middle of the Grizzlies' zone defensively as well as on the boards.

"We had complete control of the game," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "They went with their second unit, went to a zone and we just went dead."

Philadelphia never recovered as the lead slowly melted away before the Grizzlies went on top late in the final frame thanks to Zach Randolph's conventional three-point play. It was a rare miscue by Collins, who had the undersized Thaddeus Young, trying to check the double-double machine.

Memphis then sealed things by making 11 consecutive free throws in the final two minutes.

Randolph and Rudy Gay combined for 17 points in the dominating fourth quarter as the Grizzlies won for the fourth time in five games despite playing without high-scoring guard O.J. Mayo, who was serving the first of a 10-game suspension for violating the league's drug policy.

Randolph ended with 22 points and 12 rebounds, while Gay chipped in 16 points in the win.

Jodie Meeks and Jrue Holiday each netted 16 points for the Sixers in the crushing defeat. Elton Brand added 15 points and nine rebounds while Andre Iguodala narrowly missed a triple-double with 12 points, eight rebounds and nine assists.

"I'm very disappointed. We just couldn't get any stops [in the fourth quarter]," Brand said.

Six Shots:

*The 21-point third quarter lead was the biggest the Sixers have blown all season, topping an 18-point edge they gave up in Atlanta on Dec. 3.

*The Sixers had a season-high 13 three-pointers and lost for just the second time when outshooting their opponent on the night (13-2).

*Randolph's double-double was his 33rd on the season.

*Lou Williams scored just nine points off the bench, snapping an 11-game streak of scoring in double figures.

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