PHILADELPHIA -- Down 21 points in the third quarter, Memphis coach Lionel Hollins feared the worst.
"We have character," he said, "but I think a lot of them were about ready to pack it in."
The 76ers could only wish the Grizzlies quit.
"I think that's one of the best wins we've ever had," guard Mike Conley said. "It shows how far this team has come."
The Sixers came unglued in the fourth, committing 10 turnovers, and didn't have the defensive fortitude to make a big stop. It's the latest fourth-quarter collapse for Doug Collins' team -- the sixth time they've lost when leading by 10-plus points. This was their biggest blown lead in a defeat this year.
"We just went dead," Collins said.
Gay scored 16 points and put Memphis ahead for good with a 6-footer in traffic that capped their biggest rally of the season. Gay helped the Grizzlies take over down the stretch. He threw down a thunderous dunk and then hit the contested jumper to make it 87-85.
The Sixers were on the brink of a shot-clock violation when the ball bounced out of bounds. Sam Young made up for a boneheaded basket in the first half with a jumper for a four-point lead and the Grizzlies held on.
Randolph had 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Grizzlies.
"I don't know if it's the best win. One of the best," Hollins said.
The Sixers were too late when they tried to pull off a comeback of their own. Tony Battie's 3-pointer with 8.3 seconds left made it 93-90 and Jodie Meeks tossed in a long 3 and drew the foul with 7.1 seconds left. With Sixers chairman Ed Snider standing from his courtside seat, Meeks sank the free throw to pull the Sixers to 95-94.
Randolph, who made 10 of 11 free throws, hit two from the line and Philadelphia's errant inbound pass sailed out of bounds and into the Sixers bench. Randolph capped the win with two more from the line.
"The common denominator for these losses is just miscues," Brand said. "We turned the ball over and it was very uncharacteristic of how we've been playing lately. It seemed like we got past the point where we were done losing leads, especially 21-point leads."
The Sixers appeared to bust the game open when they hit four 3-pointers during a 21-2 run early in the third quarter.
Unlike some of their recent wins, when reserves such as Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young were counted on for big buckets in the second half, the Sixers' starters took over the in the third. Meeks and Andre Iguodala combined for 17 points and the Sixers shot 52 percent.
Meeks hit three 3s during the run and the Sixers made eight straight shots during the spurt.
It should have been enough.
The Grizzlies' reserves sparked a 15-3 run that trimmed the lead to 76-68, but Meeks answered with his fourth 3 of the game. Iguodala went behind the back on the break to Young for a one-handed jam that made it 84-74 with 5:12 left.
The Grizzlies, chasing the eighth seed in the West, started chipping away and left the Sixers wondering where it all went wrong.
"Credit our bench, they kept us in the game," said Conley, who scored 13.
Memphis played without guard O.J. Mayo, serving the first game of a 10-game suspension without pay for violating the league and union's anti-drug program with a positive test.
The Grizzlies have to be relieved they didn't lose by two. Williams missed a jumper late in the first half and Young was alone under the basket to make the grab. But the ball knocked off his right hand and straight through the hoop.
Brand was closest to the basket and credited with the points.
It proved a costly mistake when the Sixers led the Grizzlies 44-40 at halftime.
"I think I did that once in high school," Young said.
That embarrassment came a day after the league suspended Mayo for a positive test for dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). He blamed an over the counter supplement that he didn't know was banned by the NBA for the positive test, but declined to say which supplement he used. He will be able to return Feb. 15, also against the 76ers in Memphis.
One Sixers fan held a sign that read: "Our bench doesn't need DHEA to perform."
The Grizzlies' reserves were scoreless in the first half and had 24 points in the second. ... Randolph has 33 double-doubles. ... The Sixers snapped a three-game winning streak.