A shadow of the Memphis Grizzlies outshone a shadow of the Philadelphia 76ers, 92-83, Saturday night at the sold-out Pyramid. Both teams are nursing critical injuries to their respective line-ups.
When opponents to an NBA deal in Memphis stepped forward, one of their concerns was that no fans would go to games. However, probably no one would have guessed that the players would be the ones going AWOL during matches.
The Memphis Grizzlies (5-14) hit the floor without two starters, Michael Dickerson and Lorenzen Wright, and also without Memphis sixth man, Stromile Swift. The Philadelphia 76ers (8-12) came to play without three starters including All-Star Allen Iverson, as well as Derrick Coleman, and Aaron McKie. In the second quarter of play, the Philly squad would lose another key contributor, Speedy Claxton, to an ankle injury.
But the Grizzlies, at least, decided to put on a show as the squad built a double-digit lead and kept that lead for most of the game, before finally settling for the nine-point win.
Jason Williams scored 23 points and handed out eight assists, Pau Gasol scored 24 points and pulled down 8 rebounds, and Shane Battier scored 15 points in the winning effort.
The 76ers relied on Vonteego Cummings and his 28 points, on Matt Harpring and his 22 points, and on Dikembe Mutumbos 11 points and 17 rebounds.
Though Philly out-rebounded Memphis 47-33, the squad also committed 19 turnovers good for 24 Grizzlies points. Still, despite the 76ers inability to hold on to the ball (due, in part, to eight Memphis steals and four blocked shots), head coach Sidney Lowe came away from the game with a bad taste in his mouth. We dodged a bullet tonight, Lowe said of the game. We got the win, but I wasnt happy the way we played.
Lowe said that he felt his teams defense was shoddy, and that his offense relied too much on one man taking ill-advised shots rather than moving the ball properly. Lowe pointed to the teams two previous blow-out losses to show the importance of defense. The two loses were [due to] our defense, he said. And thats coming on the perimeter. We preach no middle penetration. [Philadelphia] penetrated to the middle 10 times. Thats a lack of effort.
Williams offered a different perspective. Im sure any coach wouldnt be happy with it, he said. Coming as a player, Ill take a win any way we can get it.
The Memphis Grizzlies face Michael Jordan and the Washington Wizards this coming Tuesday, December 11, at the Pyramid at 7 p.m.