PHILADELPHIA — Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen stole a pass two minutes into the fourth quarter and sailed downcourt for a dunk. Then he smiled as he retreated on defense, his team having seized a 23-point lead over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.
This is what life is like for the Sixers, whose 103-77 loss to Memphis was their 20th straight.
Sixers coach Brett Brown said before the game that it is “not slit-your-wrists time,” but a few hours later it was time for this edition of the Sixers to take a place in franchise history alongside the worst club the NBA has ever seen.
The 1972-73 Sixers, who finished 9-73, also dropped 20 straight. The league record for consecutive losses is 26 by the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers.
Guard Michael Carter-Williams scored 23 points and forward Thaddeus Young added 20 for Philadelphia (15-51), which also dropped its 16th straight at home. The Sixers had previously broken the team record and are now three off the league mark of 19, established by the 1993-94 Dallas Mavericks.
Guard Mike Conley scored 19 points to lead the Grizzlies (38-28), who won for the fifth time in six games and the 12th time in their last 16.
Forward Zach Randolph added 14 points as Memphis shot 54.3 percent from the floor and limited Philadelphia to 37.3 percent shooting from the field and a season-low point total.
Conley crammed 15 of his points into the first 10 minutes of the third quarter, when the Grizzlies stretched a 45-36 halftime lead to 72-50. The Sixers never drew closer than 17 thereafter and trailed by as many as 29 in the fourth quarter.
The Grizzlies, down 19-17 late in the first quarter, fashioned an 18-5 run in the next 6:28 to take a 35-24 lead with 5:37 left in the first half. Memphis did it with defense, limiting the Sixers to 2-for-11 shooting from the field during that span and holding them without a field goal for the first 4:49 of the second quarter.
At the other end, Allen and reserve center-forward Kosta Koufos contributed five and four points, respectively, to the spree.
The Sixers closed to 39-35 courtesy of an 11-3 flurry that featured six points by Carter-Williams, but by halftime the Grizzlies had pushed the lead to 45-36.
Carter-Williams scored 13 points and Young had 12 in the first half. Randolph topped Memphis with eight.
NOTES: The Sixers assigned forward Arnett Moultrie to Delaware of the D-League. Moultrie appeared in 12 games for Philadelphia, averaging 3.0 points and 2.9 rebounds in 15.6 minutes. “We want to send him down and let him play,” coach Brett Brown said. “He has to play basketball.” … Asked before the game how much motivation there is for his team to avoid being the team against which the Sixers break their extended skid, Memphis coach Dave Joerger said, “That’s human nature, maybe. But for us big picture and playing in the West, fighting every single game has been important. It’s the game we need to have, not the opponent.”
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