Sixers outgunned in Utah, Lose to the Jazz 100-83

The Philadelphia 76ers suffered their fourth straight loss Thursday night against the Utah Jazz at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in downtown Salt Lake City.

The Philadelphia 76ers last played the Utah Jazz on November 7th in Philadelphia, where Utah won the game 109-84. Coming into tonight’s game the Jazz had just broken a three-game skid on Tuesday night, beating the Lakers 102-100. They have won 5 of last 8 games and had a record of 19-13, currently 6th in the west. Prior to tonight’s contest, the Sixers were 2-9 on the road. Additionally, they had lost their last three games and were 7-23 overall.

The Sixers star rookie, Joel Embiid did not play Thursday. Embiid’s been on a minutes restriction since the start of the season. He has not been playing back-to-back games, however, his minutes have increased to 28 minutes per game. This was Embiid’s ninth game this season that he has not played due to scheduled rest.

Starting off slow

Ersan Ilyasova got the nod to start tonight in Embiid’s absence. In five minutes of play, he was the only Sixer to score as Utah jumped out to an early 12-4 lead. Ilyasova would finish with his 6th double-double of the season, registering 16 points and 12 rebounds overall. Within the first two minutes of play, Nerlens Noel was brought in off the bench to replace Jahlil Okafor, as Okafor got into early foul trouble.

Noel played a season high 22 minutes and produced 16 points and 12 rebounds in that time. The Sixers struggled to find an offensive rhythm early on, while Gordon Hayward, Utah’s leading scorer started out hot. Hayward scored 8 points, including two 3-point field goals in the first quarter. He would finish the game with 20 points and 4 boards.

A few of the Sixers players including Noel were looking slightly winded early on, perhaps due to the increased altitude at Salt Lake City. Despite their slow start, the Sixers did find their pace and remained competitive through the game. In the final two minutes of the first quarter, the Sixers went on a 10-0 run to take the lead, the score 24-22.

Okafor takeover

In the second quarter both teams continued to exchange baskets resulting in several lead changes. Okafor came to life, and was able to utilize his superior post moves, scoring on Derrick Favors at will. He would end up finishing the game with 13 points, all of them scored in the second quarter.

Dario Saric also contributed with 12 points in 13 minutes of play in the first half. Saric would finish the night with 14 points and 4 rebounds.

For the rest of the first half, Utah made use of their good perimeter shooting. Able to draw a lot of contact from Sixers defenders, they were rewarded in the form of free-throws. Luckily for the Sixers, the Jazz were having problems converting on their free throws. By the end of the first half, Utah shot just 47 percent at the line. Going into halftime the Sixers enjoyed a slight lead over Utah, the score was 51-49.

Sixers in control

In the third quarter, hamstring tightness bothered Jahlil Okafor. He was led off to the training room for treatment. With Okafor out, Joel Embiid resting, and Richaun Holmes still not playing due to concussion protocol, it was the first time that the Sixers frontcourt logjam seemed to have a big man shortage. The problem shortly subsided, Okafor soon returned to the court, at the 7:35 mark he was back in the game.

Through the rest of the third quarter, the Sixers took better care of the ball than Utah and uncharacteristically gave up no fast break points. Despite Utah shooting over 60 percent from 3-point land, the Sixers shot an overall higher field goal percentage and after three quarters of play the Sixers led 74-70.

Fourth Quarter collapse

In the first two and a half minutes of the fourth quarter, the Jazz went on a quick 10-0 run, leading the Sixers 80-74. Robert Covington’s season 3-point woes continued. A career 35.3 percent shooter beyond the arc, Covington shot 0-7 on 3-point baskets for the night. He scored only one free-throw and brought in 6 rebounds in the game. Covington, the Sixers fifth leading scorer, was never able to become a factor on the offensive end.

As the fourth quarter continued, the Sixers decided to get into an ill-advised 3-point shooting contest with Utah, and they paid for it. The Sixers only shooting a meager 25 percent on 3-point field goals for the night compared to Utah’s elite 57 percent, were outgunned.

By 5:57 in the fourth quarter, the Jazz lead ballooned to 15 with a score of 91-76 in their favor. Through the rest of the game the Sixers continued their all too familiar fourth quarter implosion.

The Jazz maintained their lead over Philadelphia with superior perimeter shooting for which the Sixers had no answer, and were never able to rally from. This marked the seventh time this season that the Sixers were leading a game after three quarters of play, only to self-destruct and allow the opposing team to comeback and win. At the end of regulation, the Jazz enjoyed their largest lead of the night of 17 points, winning 100-83.

Third year player Rodney Hood also contributed to Utah’s success tonight, scoring 20 points.

George Hill was back into the lineup after missing the past 13 games due to a sprained toe. Hill finished the game with 21 points, 8 boards, and 6 dimes.

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