Late Push in Utah Not Enough
The 76ers (5-2) got one All-Star back Wednesday, then had to try and get by without another.
The challenge ultimately proved too steep, as the Sixers fell to the Utah Jazz (5-3), 106-104, at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
In his return from a two-game suspension, Joel Embiid finished with 27 points and a season-best 16 rebounds. The double-double was his third in four appearances.
He helped the Sixers get going early, and was instrumental in staking the squad to an eight-point lead midway through the second quarter.
As the night went on, however, Embiid and the rest of the Sixers found it increasingly difficult to do enough inside against the Jazz and two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert.
Complicating matters further was that Ben Simmons exited Wednesday's contest in the first half. He was diagnosed with a mild right shoulder sprain, and didn't return.
With Simmons unavailable, reserve point man Raul Neto was thrust into a larger role. Back where he played the first four seasons of his NBA career, the veteran responded with another strong showing, accounting for 11 points, three rebounds, four assists, and a career-high three steals.
But with Utah steadily deploying its signature pick-and-roll attack on offense while clamping down defensively, the Sixers couldn't get back over the hump after falling behind late in the second quarter.
The Jazz led by two points at intermission, 58-56, then widened the gap to 13 in the third quarter. The Sixers made a run in the fourth, outscoring Utah by nine in the period, but it was too late.
The Jazz outrebounded the Sixers, 50-42 (14-7 on the offensive glass), and shot 46.1% from the field. Utah held the Sixers to 41.2% shooting.
Josh Richardson turned in a stellar performance, his 24 points marking a new high with the Sixers. He also tallied four rebounds, four assists, three steals, and was plus-11 in 34 minutes of action.
Click here for a complete box score.
Going up against his old squad, Raul Neto acquitted himself well.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) November 7, 2019
The 76ers will put the wraps on their four-game Western Conference road trip Friday against Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets.