Nick Young was stunned by it all.
With 1.2 seconds remaining in the game and the Sixers trailing by three points, the Sixers’ hot-shot shooter popped open just above the corner for a wide open three-pointer. In fact, the Sixers could not have come up with a better play unless they allowed Young to pick the spot in which he wanted to shoot that last three-pointer.
“I didn’t think I was going to be that wide open,” Young said after the Sixers’ 103-100 loss in a wildly entertaining game at the Wells Fargo Center against the Memphis Grizzlies (see Instant Replay).
Sometimes, though, a guy isn’t as open as he thinks he is. At least that’s the way it turned out on Monday night when Young could not even pull the trigger on the final, game-tying three-pointer. Instead, just as Young was about to let it fly, Memphis’ do-everything center Marc Gasol rotated from Evan Turner’s in-bounds pass to the corner and snuffed the shot.
Young said he never saw it coming.
“I wish I could have that one again,” he said afterwards. “That one hurts.”
Actually, another wound that comes with the Sixers’ defeat is that they failed to win back-to-back games again for the eighth time in a row. It’s been since Nov. 30 that the Sixers strung together a couple of wins, which strangely, hasn’t completely knocked them out of the race in the Atlantic Division or the Eastern Conference playoff chase.
At 18-26, the Sixers are three games behind the Boston Celtics for the final playoff spot in the East. And though they have suffered the ignominy of losing 12 of their last 20 games without winning two in a row, the Sixers seem to think that they are getting closer to putting it together.
Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Against Memphis on Monday night, the Sixers shot the ball beautifully, making 54.2 percent of their shots even though they did not score a point in the final 3:05 of the game.
The Sixers missed their final five shots, including Nick Young’s failed attempt at the buzzer. His Swaggy-ness also missed a long three-pointer with 37.9 seconds remaining with the Sixers holding a one-point lead. That wasn’t nearly as tough to take as Thad Young’s miss at the bucket with 3.9 seconds left that would have given the Sixers a one-point lead.
Yes, the Sixers made a lot of shots. Just not the ones they needed the most at the end.
Meanwhile, Memphis lit it up at a 54.8 percent clip, which helped considering it trailed by as many as 17 points late in the first quarter and by 15 in the second. The Grizzlies had to shoot nearly 60 percent (57.8) over the final three quarters just to nip the Sixers at the end, including a season-high 27 points from Gasol on 10-for-15 shooting.
Gasol also made all six of his foul shots, grabbed seven boards and handed out seven assists to go with his first three-pointer of the season and the game-saving block at the buzzer.
“Gasol was tremendous in all facets,” Collins said.
What made some of Gasol’s shots even more dagger-like were that they came from the perimeter with the shot clock winding down. The Sixers’ defense almost made the stop … almost.
Still, Evan Turner, who led the Sixers with a season-high 27 points on 12-for-18 shooting, took solace in the effort.
“I think we’re getting closer and closer to where we want to be, and once we get over this hump, we’ll be rolling,” Turner said. “The past four or five games we’ve played with great effort, but hats’ off to the Grizzlies. They had a couple of balls that went 50-50 and they got those 50-50 balls. That’s how the ball bounced.”
The Sixers will try to start a back-to-back streak again on Wednesday night when they host the Washington Wizards. They wrap up the week at home against Sacramento on Friday night.