For three quarters, it looked like Monday night was going to be all about Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. Then the Grizzlies stormed back to beat the Sixers, 105-101, rendering Luwawu-Cabarrot’s season-high 20 points worthless.
The Sixers led for most of the game and were up by as many as 15 points, 83-68, with 59 seconds left in the third quarter. Then the Grizzlies went on a 35-15 run, fueled by their stars, Marc Gasol and Tyreke Evans, and by the Sixers’ sloppy play.
The loss to the 17-29 Grizzlies puts the Sixers at 22-21 on the season and snaps a three-game winning streak.
Memphis nearly gifted the Sixers the victory with several key mistakes of its own. With the Grizzlies leading, 103-100, Ben Simmons took a charge on Jarell Martin. Joel Embiid then drew a foul with 15.8 seconds left, and made one of two free throws.
After Embiid made the second free throw, Evans dribbled into a trap and Robert Covington forced a steal. With the Sixers out of timeouts, Covington made an ill-advised decision to take a quick, contested three-pointer, which he air-balled. Mario Chalmers made two free throws to ice it for the Grizzlies.
• For someone who entered the game shooting just 31.9 percent from long range, Luwawu-Cabarrot had an incredible night. He hit a three from the right corner on the game’s first possession, then swished one from the left corner a couple minutes later. Though Luwawu-Cabarrot picked up two early fouls, Sixers coach Brett Brown rode the hot hand and turned back to the Frenchman late in the first quarter to spell Simmons. He rewarded the decision with his third three-pointer, this one from the top of the key, to put the Sixers up 20-11.
• Dario Saric also had a good offensive night, with 22 points on 7 of 11 shooting, though he had a couple costly late turnovers. More on that later …
• Luwawu-Cabarrot started for the second straight game because Jerryd Bayless remained out with left wrist soreness. Bayless was supposed to be the starter at shooting guard in JJ Redick’s absence, but Luwawu-Cabarrot has played better than anyone could have expected as the third-choice starter.
Call him TL3.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) January 23, 2018
This guy puts up a 23 footer for his sixth three of the night 🔥. pic.twitter.com/eoMC2raJyZ
• Trailing 36-22 early in the second quarter, the Grizzlies got back into the game, trimming the Sixers' lead down to 52-49 thanks to Gasol’s offense and a couple careless Sixers turnovers that led to easy transition buckets.
• Simmons was guarded by fellow rookie Dillon Brooks. At 6-6, 220 pounds, Brooks is bigger and more physical than many of the point guards who have defended Simmons. When Brooks was out, the Sixers looked to post Simmons up against Chalmers, Wayne Selden and the Grizzlies’ backup guards. Simmons had a quiet offensive night, with six points on 3 for 8 shooting from the field.
• Selden was ejected under unusual circumstances with 4:27 left in the third period. Selden tried to throw down a vicious dunk on Justin Anderson, and Anderson fouled him. The Grizzlies' guard then started talking trash to Anderson, and the officials called Selden for his second technical foul of the game, which results in an automatic ejection. Though Anderson’s foul looked pretty tame, he was whistled for a Flagrant One foul after video review.
• With Mike Conley (left Achilles heel), JaMychal Green (right ankle) and Chandler Parsons (right knee/abdominal injuries) all sidelined, the Grizzlies' offense revolved around Gasol and Evans during the game-defining run. Evans’ three tied the game at 91-91, and his free throw on the ensuing trip gave Memphis its first lead. After the teams traded the lead for the next few minutes, Gasol nailed a three from the left wing to give the Grizzlies a 98-95 edge, and Evans hit a step-back jumper to extend the lead to 100-95.
• Embiid had a rare off night after being named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week Monday for the period between Jan. 15-21. The big man was forced to sit most of the third quarter after picking up his fourth foul. Embiid and the three-time All-Star Gasol went head-to-head multiple times in the final minutes. Embiid ended up with 15 points and 14 rebounds on 5 for 13 shooting from the field and 5 of 9 shooting from the free throw line, while Gasol had 19 points and six rebounds.
• Turnovers hurt the Sixers again, especially in crunch time, and were a big reason why the Grizzlies got back into the game. It’s hard to win a game with a 24-12 turnover disadvantage.
• Though he was available to play, Richaun Holmes stayed on the bench for the second straight game. Holmes was out last Monday against Toronto and Thursday versus Boston with gastroenteritis.
• The Sixers return home to play the Bulls on Wednesday. Chicago won, 117-115, on Dec. 18 the last time the two teams met, despite a season-high 27 points from Saric.