Cheeks did all the talking in a 27-minute meeting following the 76ers’ latest defeat on Wednesday, 101-90 to New Jersey. The 76ers have lost seven of 10 and the first-year Philadelphia coach was fed up with his team’s effort and defense.
“The most I got out of it was that guys need to take a challenge to make this team better,” said Allen Iverson, who scored 36 points. “He talked about during this bad time that we’re going through right now that it was important for everybody to stick together.”
The 76ers have allowed more than 100 points in four straight games and have forced a total of just 14 turnovers in the last two.
“Everything we do is not going to be perfect, obviously, but we have to get better on defense,” Cheeks said. “I think that our offense has slipped the last couple of games, so there are a lot of things that we have to work on.”
Cheeks replaced Kyle Korver in the starting lineup with John Salmons, hoping to shake things up, but the switch did little to change the outcome. Salmons scored only six points and Korver had eight off the bench.
Cheeks said his team is a work in progress and still has the potential to do well in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s us trying to stay together, which we will, and to keep working to figuring out how to win games,” Cheeks said. “There are a lot of things we’ve got to work on.”
Memphis has matched a season high by losing three in a row, including an 87-79 defeat to New Orleans on Wednesday in the opener of a four-game road trip.
Grizzlies leading scorer Pau Gasol tied a season low with nine points, well below his 19.6 season average.
“They double-teamed me almost every time I got the ball,” said Gasol, who attempted only eight shots. “Obviously, I’d like to have a better shooting night, but give their defense credit.”
The Grizzlies shot 37.8 percent from the field and were held below 80 points for the second time in three games. They also lost three in a row from Dec. 9-14.
Memphis center Lorenzen Wright missed the game with a bruised left knee and is questionable for Friday. Guard Dahntay Jones started in his place as the Grizzlies went with a small lineup, but he had only four points and one assist.
Memphis has won four straight over Philadelphia, though this is the first meeting this season.