76ers rest starters in 4th quarter after thumping Grizzlies

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76ers rest starters in 4th quarter after thumping Grizzlies
Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons (25) goes up for a dunk during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Wednesday, March 21, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Robert Covington, J.J. Redick and Dario Saric each had 15 points to pace all five Philadelphia starters in double-figures, and the 76ers continued their push for home-court advantage in the playoffs with a 119-105 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.

Joel Embiid added 14 points and Ben Simmons had 13 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for the 76ers (40-30), who won their fourth straight to improve to a season-best 10 games over .500. None of the starters played in the fourth quarter.

Wayne Selden Jr. had 18 points to lead Memphis (19-52), which has lost 21 of 22 overall and 16 in a row on the road.

Philadelphia is closing in on its first playoff berth since 2012, but coach Brett Brown is not satisfied with merely making the postseason. Philadelphia began Wednesday sixth in the Eastern Conference, just a game back of the Pacers for the fourth spot and accompanying home-court advantage for a first-round series. Brown said prior to the game the 76ers are very much focused on a No. 4 seed or better.

“We are on the war path to get home-court advantage,” he said.

As a result, Brown correctly predicted the 76ers wouldn’t take the lowly Grizzlies lightly.

Philadelphia controlled play in the first half and headed to the locker room up 58-44, led by Embiid’s 14 points. Philadelphia completely pulled away with a dominant third quarter, outscoring the Grizzlies 41-25 to take a 99-69 lead into the fourth.

Philadelphia shot 64 percent (16 for 25) from the field in the period, including 6 for 10 from 3-point range.

The starters didn’t play another minute, saving energy for the second game of the back-to-back on Thursday night at Orlando. The move did prevent Simmons from reaching his fourth triple-double in the last five games.

NO EASY OUT

Brown added that Philadelphia isn’t going to be an easy out, or a team that opponents will relish facing, in the playoffs.

“We have accumulated some firepower,” he said. “If we can keep moving forward, I wouldn’t want to play us. We can be dangerous.”

TIP-INS

Grizzlies: Gasol will sit out Thursday’s game at Charlotte, interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said prior to the game. … Tyreke Evans didn’t play against the 76ers but will be in the lineup Thursday. … The Grizzlies beat Philadelphia 105-101 on Jan. 22 in Memphis.

76ers: Brown said he planned to play Embiid on Thursday at Orlando in the second game of the back-to-back. Brown plans to rest Embiid at some point in the final 12 games, though he expects the 7-footer to resist. “I bet it comes with a fight,” Brown said of his decision to sit Embiid.

UP NEXT

Grizzlies: At Charlotte on Thursday night.

76ers: At Orlando Thursday night.

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