With the “game winner”, Joel Embiid still destroyed the Jazz’s morale
Author of the decisive counter last day against the Magic, Lauri Markkanen was not dressed for this back-to-back against the Sixers. Hit in the hip, Finn was helpless to help Philadelphia’s one-sided first quarter with a Tyrese Maxey on fire to quickly give up a 13-point lead (22-9). The Jazz are on the ropes, and the Sixers are struggling to score 41 points in this first quarter on 65% shooting.
James Harden had six assists, while Talen Horton-Tucker capped the streak with a basket at the midfield buzzer.
Shake Milton took over to flirt with a 20-point lead, but the address abandoned the Sixers. The Jazz, thanks to Horton-Tucker, then began its furious ascent. Jordan Clarkson took over the back line of the Sixers, and the Jazz returned to four units (56-52). Finally Joel Embiid, in the last second, gave his team a 10-point lead (66-56).
In the second half, the scenario was the same with Maxey who hit the mark from a distance to give a 14-point lead (71-57). Except that the Jazz, again thanks to Horton-Tucker, signed a 9-0 run to take the score (81-80). The Sixers’ attack froze, and it took individual exploits from Maxey and Embiid to maintain a small lead (88-85). After Maxey, Harden takes things in hand, and he leaves the passes to shine from distance. His two award-winning baskets gave new life to the Sixers (101-93).
But this breath of fresh air was short-lived, and Jordan Clarkson scored eight consecutive points to bring Utah back to within two points (110-108). Vivint Arena roared, and it was still on fire when Mike Conley equalized, then this tap from Walker Kessler put them in front (115-114). With about thirty seconds left to play, the entire audience is on its feet, and Utah is about to pull off the perfect heist!
James Harden cooled the room, but on the next attack, Clarkson dived through the Sixers’ defense to score another complex basket, and restore the lead to the Jazz (117-116). There are 13 seconds left to play. Time-out Doc Rivers, with the ball for James Harden. He’s in front of the Jazz bench, and he plays in the pick-and-roll with Joel Embiid. It was dangerous but he sent him a pass behind. Embiid’s technique makes the rest of a single leg fade away. Philly regained the lead (118-117).
The final ball went to the Jazz with five seconds left, and it ended with an ugly one-handed shot from Clarkson that was cornered on the sideline. His shot went over the board, and the Jazz bowed out, again, in the final seconds…
WHAT YOU SHOULD REMEMBER
Jazz is more aggressive. Despite missing the Markkanen-Olynyk pair, the Jazz dominated under the panels with 48 shots to 37. A dominance on both sides of the field, translating to 19 points after offensive rebounds, and 20 points in those counter attack. A performance epitomized by Walker Kessler’s perfect outing: 15 points, 12 rebounds on 100% shots.
In Utah, you will never get bored… If you want suspense, you have to follow Jazz. Just this week, Will Hardy’s players beat the Magic and the Cavaliers in the final seconds, but they also lost to the Grizzlies and Sixers by a combined margin of just six points. And it has been like the beginning of the season!
✅ James Harden. The 2018 MVP plays fair, and he knows when to play with others, or play for his apple. He took risks in the attack with complex passes, but it penetrated the defense, and when it came, it was a new whole game: 31 points, 11 assists, 6 rebounds, and only 2 stray bullets.
✅ The Maxey-Milton pair. These two hurt the Jazz hard in the 1st half to widen the gap in skill from distance and aggressiveness. When he arrived, Milton scored his first five shots. As for Maxey, he was 4 of 6 from 3-point range in the first half.
✅ Joel Embiid. Even though we know he was more dominant (59 points in the “first leg”), he scored 30 points almost in one leg, and he didn’t waver when he got the winning shot.
✅Jordan Clarkson. He feels like he belongs in the All-Star Game, and it’s hard to argue after a performance like that. He held his team at arm’s length. On the other hand, his last shot ruins the final score.
✅ Walker Kessler. He stood up to Embiid, and it was no small feat, and he turned the room upside down with this complicated tap 30 seconds from the end. We understand why the Jazz took him to Minnesota.
⛔ Malik Beasley Holder, he was 3 of 14 on shots, and he left plenty of space for Tyrese Maxey then Talen Horton-Tucker.
Utah (22-24) : trip to Minnesota on Monday to look for Rudy Gobert again.
Philadelphia (26-16) : back-to-back against the Lakers this Sunday.