The Memphis Grizzlies look to get comfortable with life on the road Sunday when they begin a four-game trek, with the first stop in Philadelphia.
The Grizzlies, after all, will be tipping off a stretch in which they play 11 of their next 14 games away from home. They will start that run against the 76ers, who boast a 20-4 record on their home court.
Jonas Valanciunas collected 19 points and 11 rebounds in Memphis’ 120-108 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. The double-double was the ninth in a row for Valanciunas, who has recorded 16 straight games with at least 10 rebounds.
While Valanciunas exploited the interior of the defense, Grayson Allen and company took their shots from the outside. Allen made five 3-pointers as Memphis had nine different players connect from beyond the arc.
All told, Memphis sank 19 of 39 attempts from 3-point range — with both numbers bringing a smile to the face of coach Taylor Jenkins.
“We’ve done a really good job scoring at a high clip (and) getting into the paint. But we’re also missing some opportunities, trying to get some more 3s and having a bit better balance on the offensive end,” Jenkins said.
“It’s great to make 19 3s, but I think it’s even better to shoot 39 3s to make sure we had that balance.”
Eight different players scored in double-digits for the Grizzlies, who shot 48.7 percent from 3-point range and 44.2 percent from the floor overall against the Timberwolves.
“It just makes it that much harder to guard us,” said reserve Xavier Tillman, who had 12 points. “You can’t just keep one player in the paint (defensively). Everybody being a lethal threat from the perimeter opens up a lot of stuff.”
Ja Morant scored 17 points and Tillman chipped in 15 as Memphis recorded its seventh straight home win over Philadelphia with a 106-104 victory on Jan. 16.
Joel Embiid sat out that game for rest purposes. However, the four-time All-Star center returned with a flourish on Saturday following a 10-game absence due to a bone bruise in his left knee. He collected 24 points, eight assists and three blocks to lift the 76ers to a 122-113 victory over the Timberwolves.
“It’s going to take a while to get back to myself,” said Embiid, who admitted he had difficulty with his endurance on Saturday.
While Embiid was critical, Tobias Harris said he was impressed with the big man’s performance right out of the gate.
“He told us he didn’t want to dunk today, and then he went out there and dunked with two hands,” Harris said of Embiid’s first basket.
Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers told reporters that he wasn’t sure if Embiid would play on Sunday.
Harris made 13 of 17 shots from the floor and finished with 32 points on Saturday to lift the 76ers to their 12th win in 15 games. He had 21 points in the previous meeting with Memphis.
–Field Level Media