Wright, 76ers top Grizzlies in Gay's absenceBy The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Thu, Dec 27, 2012 12:10 AM EST
MEMPHIS -- For 17 consecutive games, Dorell Wright didn't score in double figures. In the last four games prior to Wednesday night's game against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Philadelphia 76ers forward showed signs of life, averaging 15 points. He achieved liftoff Wednesday in the FedExForum, exploding for a season-high 28 points as the 76ers hammered the Rudy Gay-less Grizzlies 99-89. Gay wasn't even in the building because of personal reasons; he supposedly had flight delays because of inclement weather after going home for Christmas to the East Coast. Maybe his defense could have helped slow Wright, who came into Wednesday averaging eight points, and that was after back-to-back efforts of 25 and 20 points a week ago at Dallas and at Houston, respectively. Wright, in the starting line for an injured Jason Richardson (lower back strain) hit seven of 10 shots, including five of eight 3-pointers. His last 3-pointer with 3:16 left the 76ers an 11-point lead, and he finished Philadelphia's scoring when he dunked with 46.1 seconds left. "I'm used to being a starter. It's what I played the last two years (for the Golden State Warriors)," said Wright, a 6-foot-9 swingman who was traded to the 76ers in the offseason. "Coming off the bench, I'm still learning when and where to shoot in this offense. I need to keep shooting with the confidence I had tonight." The 76ers (14-15) won the second game of an eight-game road swing after a Sunday loss to the Nets in Brooklyn. Ever since Wright's playing time dramatically increased, Philadelphia is 4-1. "Dorell was tremendous," 76ers coach Doug Collins said. "We've made a conscious effort to look for him in transition so he can walk into those 3s." Philadelphia turned the game in the second quarter. The Grizzlies led 45-35 with 5:04 left before halftime, but the 76ers closed the quarter on a 14-2 run. Memphis made just one of its last 12 shots before the break. The Grizzlies (18-8) began coming unhinged in the third quarter. They couldn't stop Wright, who scored 10 of the 76ers' 26 points in the period. Wright made three of four shots, including two of three 3-pointers. Philadelphia's three-man bench of Spencer Hawes, Nick Young and Royal Ivey doubled the scoring of Memphis' four-deep bench, 38-19. Hawes, a 7-1 forward/center, scored 20 points, consistently swishing mid-range shots. He also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds. The 76ers were able to shoot 52.1 percent (37-for-71) from the field, including 9-for-16 on 3-pointers, primarily because they pushed the ball in transition. Philadelphia posted a 16-2 advantage in fast-break points. "Teams scout us, and teams that run on us and push the ball in transition usually are successful," said Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley, who made just three of 17 shots and finished with 10 points. "We have to get back the offensive rhythm we had earlier in the season, getting the ball to the right person at the right time." There wasn't much of that against the 76ers. Though forward Zach Randolph and center Marc Gasol scored 23 and 18 points, respectively, to lead the Grizzlies, it was almost impossible for Memphis to get the ball inside. With the Grizzlies just 5-of-15 from 3-point range and missing numerous mid-range jumpers -- an area where Gay's stop-and-pop shooting was missed -- the 76ers were able to drape a bunch of bodies around Randolph and Gasol. "When we have the ball, we have to run upcourt with some pace, and we have to move the ball quickly," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. "We've got too much ball-sticking, we have too much walking. We're getting the ball to different guys with just four and five seconds left on the shot clock." NOTES: Wright led the 76ers in scoring for the second time this season. ... Gasol contributed to 10 of his team's 13 baskets in the first quarter, scoring 12 points and dealing four assists. ... Memphis had its best first-quarter shooting performance of the season, hitting 13 of 21 shots (61.9 percent). The Grizzlies followed that by shooting 31.9 percent (22-for-69) in the final three quarters. ... Philadelphia posted its first road win since beating the Bobcats in Charlotte on Nov. 30.
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