Embiid-less 76ers hold off Ja Morant, Grizzlies in overtime thriller as they close in on East’s top seed

By | January 31, 2022

On Monday night, for the first time since Dec. 15, Joel Embiid wasn’t going to be suiting up for the 76ers. Guess what? It didn’t matter, even against the West’s third-seeded Grizzlies. 

The Philadelphia squad rode their momentum, having won 14 of their last 17, and their superstar big man was hyped after the final buzzer. 

They were led by their trio of Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris and Embiid’s back-up Andre Drummond. 

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Maxey, the 21-year-old guard who has had a spectacular sophomore season as he has filled the void left by Ben Simmons, elevated his play given the opposing point guard who was in town. 

Playing against Western Conference All-Star starter Ja Morant, who finished with 37 points for his seventh straight 30-point game, Maxey tied his season-high in points and took control late by scoring six of the team’s 11 points in overtime. 

Along with his 33 points, he also dished out eight assists and recorded a career-high four blocks. 

Tobias Harris finished with 31 points, 18 of which came in the first half which helped the hosts jump to a 17-point lead. Meanwhile, Andre Drummond, in an increased load of minutes, stuffed the stat sheet with 16 points, 23 rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals. 

This result should be sweet revenge for the team, having lost their previous encounter this season against the Grizzlies in Memphis by 35 points on Dec. 13.

As a collective, led by Mattisse Thybulle, the 76ers made Morant work this game. While he did finish with 37, he went 0-of-5 from the beyond the arc and recorded nine of the Grizzlies’ 14 turnovers.

With only three Grizzlies scoring in double figures, it was Morant and Memphis’ hidden gem Desmond Bane, who finished with 34 points, that kept them in the game. 

For the season, this is the 76ers’ fourth victory in 12 games without Embiid. This win, their fifth straight, combined with Miami’s loss in Boston, puts the 76ers just a half-game out of the top seed in the Eastern Conference.