PHILADELPHIA (TICKER) —Eric Snow got his first career triple-double the hard way.
Snow missed two free throws before rebounding Shane Battier’s potential tying 3-pointer and sinking the clinching foul shot to lift the Philadelphia 76ers to their seventh straight victory, a 111-107 triumph over the Memphis Grizzlies.
“That’s the way it played out, a relieved Snow said. “The biggest thing is that we won the game. Everything is easier to deal with once you secure the victory.”
Snow had 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for the first triple-double of his eight-year career. The point guard made a handful of big plays down the stretch, setting up Derrick Coleman for a jumper that gave Philadelphia a seemingly safe 109-104 lead with 31 seconds left.
The teams traded free throws before Pau Gasol, who scored a season-high 32 points, had a driving layup to make it 110-107 with 15 seconds to go. Snow was fouled, but the 86 percent foul shooter missed both attempts, giving the Grizzlies one last chance.
There were a pair of scrambles for the ball before Jason Williams gained control and found Battier wide open in the left corner. But his 3-pointer clanged off the rim and was run down by Snow, who corraled his 10th rebound and again was fouled with 2.2 seconds to play.
“I knew I was close,” Snow said. “Coach Ayers (assistant Randy Ayers) had made me aware. He just said go get some rebounds. He didn’t say how many or anything like that. ‘Get some rebounds’ can mean anything. I’m always told to get rebounds and to box out. I didn’t know if it was one, two, three or what it was.”
Snow missed another free throw before making one to seal the win. He sank 8-of-13 shots and 5-of-8 free throws while collecting season highs in points and boards.
“The nice thing about a triple-double is that everybody recognizes it and they write it up,” Sixers coach Larry Brown said. “I thought he has been playing at a very high level the whole year.”
“I know he’s excited right now,” teammate Allen Iverson said. “It has to be a great feeling for him. I think he deserves it a lot because he is an all-around player. He’s just a tough guy.”
A humble player whose greatest claim to fame is a sportsmanship award, Snow put his first triple-double in perspective.
“If I could be like Jason Kidd, who seems like he gets one every other game, it would be a big deal,” he said. “It’s hard to do. I’ve come close quite a few times. If you think about the people who have done it and how long it took me to do it and hard it is, I have to bow my head to the guys who continuously do it all the time like Kidd or (Kevin) Garnet and those type of guys.”
Iverson shook off a bruised thigh to collect 34 points, nine assists and three steals for the Sixers, who are the only team yet to lose since the All-Star break. They have swept the Grizzlies in six of the last seven season series.
“We’re now 4-4 since the break and we’ll take this,” Grizzlies coach Hubie Brown said. “We’ll take these kind of efforts every night. We’re seven out of eight in great efforts since the break, because this game could have gone either way.”
The Grizzlies trailed by as many as 12 points in the third quarter but tied the game three times in the final period, the last time at 93-93 on a free throw by Wesley Person with 8:02 to play.
Iverson answered with a jumper that gave the Sixers the lead for good but did not score again as Snow took charge, putting in pair of baskets around a hook by Gasol.
Keith Van Horn had three baskets over the next three minutes, helping Philadelphia cling to a 105-102 edge. Coleman blocked a layup by Battier, and Snow provided some breathing room with a pair of free throws at the 1:57 mark.
During its streak, Philadelphia also has beaten Chicago and Cleveland twice to climb to fourth in the Eastern Conference.
“I don’t care if we’ve won seven games in a row against the seven bottom teams in the league,” Iverson said. “We understand how hard it is to win a basketball game regardless of who you’re playing.”
“This whole league is about winning games you’re supposed to win, especially at home, where in the past we’ve had real difficulty,” Larry Brown said. “This was a game we would have lost three weeks ago.”
Lorenzen Wright scored 12 points for the Grizzlies, who shot 45 percent (42-of-94) but just 7-of-25 from 3-point range. Battier was 0-of-5 from the arc and Person 1-of-5.
“They make them most nights,” Hubie Brown said. “Both guys are shooting over 46 percent in threes.”
The first half was a shootout between Iverson and Gasol. Iverson had 24 points to Gasol’s 22 and Philadelphia grabbed a 63-60 lead.
Iverson banged his thigh on Wright’s knee and left briefly early in the third quarter. He returned and helped the Sixers open a 79-67 advantage before a pair of 3-pointers by Williams sparked a 17-7 surge that got the Grizzlies within 86-84 entering the final period.
“They take a lot of wild shots,” Iverson said. “But when those shots are going down, they’re hard to beat.”