Philadelphia • Donovan Mitchell glared at Joel Embiid, as Philadelphia’s mammoth center stood over the Utah Jazz rookie and flexed after a blocked shot.
“Get that [stuff] out of here,” Embiid exclaimed, before turning and running up the Wells Fargo Center floor. Mitchell followed Embiid, caught up to him and pushed him. Embiid fell, and Mitchell incurred a technical foul.
It was the most fight the Utah Jazz showed on Monday night.
Those who hoped the Jazz turned a corner with Saturday night’s 40 point win over the Orlando Magic had to be disappointed. Outhustled, and showing very little life, the Jazz were soundly defeated 107-86 by a young and athletic Sixers team seemingly gaining confidence by the game.
• Utah loses for the eighth time in 10 games.
The Jazz fall behind early and don’t recover.
Utah falls to 7-11 on the season.
Monday night was one of those “throw everything away” games for the Jazz, who couldn’t get much to work. They shot just 35 percent from the field. They allowed Philadelphia to shoot 51 percent. They surrendered a lead by the middle of the first quarter and never regained it. They trailed by as many as 21 points and by the end of the night, Embiid was openly taunting the Jazz with nearly every basket.
Every team in the NBA has nights like the Jazz had Monday night. Nights when nothing goes right. Nights when the legs feel like lead and playing defense is akin to running in mud.
Problem is, the Jazz are having multiple nights such as this and with frequency. Last Friday night’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets was an example. A blowout loss last Monday night at home to the Minnesota Timberwolves is another.
And there lies the issue. The loss to the Sixers is the eighth defeat for Utah in 10 games. The Jazz come out of their four-game trip with one win. And after a night of good feeling in a win over the Magic, Monday was a quick dive back to reality.
“We didn’t come out with a lot of energy,” Jazz shooting guard Rodney Hood said. “We didn’t play well and we didn’t shoot well. Tonight was a lack of energy and a lack of focus. Being on the road can be tough. We need to take advantage of opportunities, even when we’re tired. And tonight we didn’t do that.”
As a result, the Jazz faced a conundrum Monday night. They didn’t have lively legs, and let it affect their play. Secondly, they were facing an opponent featuring two of the most dynamic talents in the NBA.
Rookie point guard Ben Simmons scored a career-high 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. He scored 14 of those points in the third quarter when the Sixers put the game away. Time and again, Simmons found his way into the lane and either finished at the basket, or flipped home a soft floater.
The Jazz had no answer.
Embiid was a little quieter than the 46 points he scored last week against the Los Angeles Lakers. Still, he had 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in 27 minutes. Together, Simmons and Embiid were simply too much for the Jazz, especially without Rudy Gobert available to protect the rim.
“We just didn’t make shots,” Utah forward Derrick Favors said. “We were low on energy tonight and that hurt us. But we also didn’t make shots. We have to go back and see what we can do to get better individually. We have to figure out a way to get better.”
Mitchell scored 17 points to lead the Jazz, but he went 6 of 19 from the field and just 1 of 7 from 3-point range. Hood scored 13 points and Ricky Rubio scored 12 points, while Ekpe Udoh scored a season-high 10 points.
The Jazz scored 36 points in the first half and couldn’t muster enough stops defensively. For the game, they were outrebounded 55-34 and shot 32 percent from 3-point range.
“We just have to find a way to play better,” Favors said.