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Joel Embiid sits out 76ers-Jazz game with back tightness

The Sixers' star center could only watch as the Jazz rallied for a 134-123 victory.

From News Services

Monday’s clash of All-Star centers went unrealized as Joel Embiid was a last-minute scratch against the Utah Jazz due to back tightness. Philadelphia’s big man was coming off back-to-back 35-point efforts, albeit in losses for the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference.

The Jazz topped the 76ers 134-123 thanks in large part to a stellar performance from Utah reserve Jordan Clarkson. He had a season-high 40 points off the bench to help offset a career-best 42 points from 76ers star guard Ben Simmons. 

Game Recap: Jazz 134, 76ers 123

Playing without his All-Star running mate, Simmons had 12 assists and nine rebounds — barely missing a triple-double. He easily topped his previous best of 34 points set on Dec. 7, 2019.

“Honestly, I’ve been working on my mentality and my mental (approach) a lot these past few weeks,” Simmons said of his newfound scoring prowess. “It’s not easy to do that, change the way you play. Certain things in the game come natural to certain people. I feel like I’m figuring it out.”

Embiid is averaging a career-best 29.6 ppg on 54.3% shooting, including 40% from 3-point range. The game would have pitted the best team from each conference against each other, and Embiid against former two-time Kia Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert.

After last season’s disappointing first-round loss to Boston, new 76ers coach Doc Rivers was hired to push of Embiid and Simmons to new heights. Together, they are hoping to lead Philadelphia beyond the semifinals in the playoffs for the first time since its 2001 Finals appearance.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.