Philadelphia • Lessons were apparently not learned.
A game after getting blown out in the first half by the Toronto Raptors, the Utah Jazz got out to a similarly bad — if not record-setting — start on Monday night. Eventually, they lost to the Philadelphia 76ers by a score of 103-94, but all of the damage was done in that first half, where they again got out to a huge deficit.
“It was pretty much like yesterday. It was hard for us to get good shots,” Rudy Gobert said. “And then they just ran on us. They all got going.”
It’s hard to pinpoint which facet the Jazz were worse at: getting good shots or making the ones they did take. For 23 minutes and 55 seconds, the Jazz didn’t make a 3-pointer; they were saved from a first-half zero in that column only by Mike Conley’s shot at the end of the half. Meanwhile, time and time again they settled for inefficient midrange floaters, nearly all of which clanked out.
Donovan Mitchell was the largest culprit. He finished with only 18 points on 6-of-19 shooting from the field, taking many iffy looks. Bojan Bogdanovic wasn’t really better, going 3 of 11 for nine points.
Turnovers were once again an issue. The Jazz had 20 on the night, including eight in a key 13-minute stretch in which they were outscored by the Sixers by a 36-10 margin. The bench, seemingly incapable of scoring, held a large share of the blame, but things didn’t immediately improve once the starters came back in, either.
Just as Sunday’s game featured a second-half comeback to salvage the scoreline a little, so too did Monday’s game. This one came in the fourth, led by Joe Ingles and Gobert attacking the Sixers’ centers in pick and roll. Despite a fourth-quarter deficit of 19 points, the Jazz did cut it to seven, but it was far too late, with 51 seconds left. Gobert was the Jazz’s best performer on the night, finishing with 27 points and 12 rebounds; Ingles finished with 13 points and a team-high nine assists.
“We didn’t defend as well as we wanted to, but the defense picked up throughout the game,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “And there’s a lot of teams, I think, in that situation that wouldn’t respond the way this team did.”
For the Sixers, Tobias Harris led the way with 26 points, but took 23 shots to get there. He carried the offensive load while Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons sometimes struggled to get anything going offensively. The Jazz allowed the Sixers to score only 43 points in the second half, but by then, the game was largely decided anyway.
The road trip finished with the Jazz having a 1-4 record. While there were tough matchups — facing the Sixers on the second night of a back to back among them — the reality is that the Jazz will have to face good teams in the playoffs as well. A tough schedule is no longer a reasonable excuse for a team that wants to be a contender for a title, not a contender for a first- or second-round exit.
“I think the takeaway is that we have to play defense in order to be good. We’re a defensive minded team, and if we don’t think about defense, we’re just going to trade buckets,” Gobert said. “They got buckets, but we didn’t get buckets.”