Snapshots | Team Responds With Convincing Win at Utah
Recent history says Salt Lake City hasn’t been an easy stop for the 76ers (23-13), but their latest visit to Vivint Smart Home Arena yielded another welcomed outlier.
After grinding through the start of Thursday’s game, the Sixers ultimately found their legs, quickly becoming an elite version of themselves, en route to a convincing, balanced 114-97 victory over the Utah Jazz (17-19).
The road win at Utah was the second in as many seasons for the Sixers, and matched the club’s largest road margin of victory against the Jazz since January 23rd, 1983.
The last time they beat Utah on its home floor in back-to-back years was 1987 and 1988.
“I thought we got our mojo back,” said Joel Embiid, who pumped out 23 points (9-17 fg, 2-6 3fg), 15 rebounds, six assists, and five blocks for his 31st double-double. “We got our juice back, so that was good.”
Having flown across the country the previous day, the Sixers saw only 4 of their first 16 shots drop Thursday evening, and trailed 29-22 heading into the second quarter.
At the end of the frame, things began to change.
A quick 9-2 spurt sent the Sixers into halftime with momentum, and a 57-52 advantage. They then blew things open with a 3-point shooting barrage in the third quarter, in which they matched a season-high by scoring 38 points for a second game in a row.
Before the night was done, the Sixers led by as many as 23 points.
JJ Redick paced his squad with 24 points (8-12 fg, 6-9 3fg), and hit key threes in the third to open up a double-digit edge. He called Thursday’s win “huge.”
“This is a very difficult [road trip], starting in Boston, playing a bunch of teams with playoff aspirations, teams that are in the Western Conference playoffs. It is going to be a tough trip. We had to get this one for sure.”
Assuming a key role in putting Utah away for good late in Thursday’s fourth quarter, Ben Simmons registered his fifth triple-double of the campaign. He supplied 14 points, 14 boards, 12 assists, and three steals.
Flipping the script from a tough Christmas Day overtime loss to the Boston Celtics, the Sixers outscored the Jazz, 26-7, on points off turnovers. They assisted on 31 of their 43 field goals, and sunk eight triples in the second half.
“I’m just trying to come here and get a win,” Simmons said. “We did that. We took care of business.”
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EMBIID EARNS A RING
A ring of the Sixers’ post-game locker room victory bell, that is.
With several players on Thursday turning in impact showings, Brett Brown said the decision wasn’t easy, but Joel Embiid’s defensive impact tipped the scales.
“I’ve said it many times, and I’ll say it again, he is the Defensive Player of the Year. When I look at our metrics, I’m his coach, and his impact on this team is overwhelming. I thought he showed that.”
For the second time in as many match-ups this season, Embiid outplayed Rudy Gobert, his counterpart and the reigning 2018 Defensive Player of the Year.
According to stats.nba.com, Embiid was a plus-15 in the nearly 25 minutes he and Gobert shared the court together.
SIMMONS STANDS OUT
During the Sixers’ late spurt to close the first half, Ben Simmons served as a spark. So too as the case throughout the second half, when his team seized command.
Brett Brown felt the contributions of the 2018 Rookie of the Year spoke for themselves.
“He had a triple-double and was dominant. He was really committed defensively. We’re all going to look at the numbers and what I remember the most, and I think the tape will confirm it, is how dominant he was defensively.”
Joel Embiid had praise for Simmons, too.
“He’s been a great point guard. He just needs to keep doing the same thing.”
REDICK ON TARGET
JJ Redick was in prime form against Utah.
His six 3-pointers equaled his second-highest total of the season.
“First of all, I think I was patient,” he said. “I had a couple looks in transition but other than that, it was just making good reads and a lot of just one dribble 3-pointers leaning one way or another.”
In addition to his game-high 24 points, Redick also sported a game-best plus-21 rating.
An impressive trip to Salt Lake City it was for Ben Simmons.
The Sixers will be idle Friday and Saturday, before playing their final outing of the 2018 calendar year Sunday at Moda Center in Portland (19-15).