When not a single starter shoots better than 50 percent and your top scorer maxes out at 15 points, one might think your team has had a rough night. But the Memphis Grizzlies took the ball inside against the Philadelphia 76ers early, took a big lead and held on down the stretch despite 22 points from a hot Jrue Holiday for a 89-76 win in Memphis Tuesday night.
The 76ers have success in getting teams to rely on long two-point shots to score, but early on Memphis ran their offense through the low post and their newly minted All-Star Marc Gasol to take advantage of the absence of Elton Brand, who missed the game due to a sprained thumb. Gasol and fellow starting frontcourt mate Marreese Speights helped the home team to a 27-7 start and the Sixers struggled to get to 10 before the first quarter ended.
In the second quarter, Holiday got hot, knocking down five of eight shots, including three from downtown to help Philly get to five before halftime. Included in that 32-point quarter were 13 straight Sixer points from Holiday, who scored with a layup, dunk and three three-pointers during that run. But while Holiday was hot, the usually sturdy Sixer bench was ice-cold.
Louis Williams, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young and Nikola Vucevic combined for a 7-32 shooting night (22 percent) and never gave Philadelphia the usual push that had propelled them to a 20-12 record coming into the game.
Memphis never had a single player step out in the scoring department in the second half, as eight different Grizzlies participated in a 22-point quarter. The Grizzlies used excellent ball movement, usually through Gasol, to accumulate 25 assists on their 31 baskets. Gasol led all Grizzlies with seven assists, part of a 15-14-7-5 (blocks) effort to ward off the usually pesky Sixers.
Gasol led Memphis in points, rebounds, assists and blocks for the game, the last before the All-Star break for the team, while the Sixers were led by the game-high 22 points from Holiday and seven assists from Andre Iguodala.
The Sixers got the lead down to as little as four with eight and a half minutes left, but Memphis got three three-pointers -- one from O.J. Mayo and two from Rudy Gay, who made only three shots the entire game, but scored eight in the final quarter -- to pull away with a 15-6 run to close the game.