Butler, Embiid lead Sixers past Jazz 113-107
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jimmy Butler had the sellout crowd chanting his name and singing his favorite theme song.
Butler, the four-time All-Star acquired Monday from Minnesota in a five-player trade, got a loud ovation during introductions and quickly made an impression as the Sixers built a 16-point lead in the first quarter.
Fans serenaded him throughout the game and he got to hear the team’s “1-2-3 Sixers” theme song after the win.
“I already knew this crowd would be excited,” Butler said. “Now that I have them on my side it’s better for me. Y’all, we, have some great fans. Y’all have the catchiest song. I used to sing it in my head when I came in here.”
The Jazz rallied after a rough first quarter and the teams went back-and-forth in the fourth quarter. Jae Crowder’s put-back after Ricky Rubio’s stole the ball and missed a lay-up gave Utah a 107-105 lead with 1:37 left. JJ Redick tied it on a pair of free throws. Ben Simmons‘ driving lay-up gave the 76ers a 109-107 lead.
Butler then hit a jumper to extend the lead and drew an offensive foul, sending the crowd into a frenzy as Hall of Famer Allen Iverson jumped up to celebrate from his courtside seat.
“The atmosphere was amazing,” Embiid said.
The 76ers are 29-1 in last 30 regular-season home games.
Redick had 16 points and Simmons had 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Embiid scored 12 of his points in the fourth quarter after he played less than a minute in the third because he had four fouls.
Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz with 31 points.
“We competed but we have to be smarter,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “We had some mistakes where we have to think more. They add up against a team like this.”
After the Jazz made the first basket, Butler scored on a reverse layup to begin a 12-0 run. He also nailed a 3-pointer during that stretch as Philadelphia dominated early.
But Utah closed to 54-52 at halftime following Derrick Favors’ alley-oop dunk.
Redick and Mike Muscala hit consecutive 3s early in the third quarter. However, the Jazz came back and went up 81-80 on Mitchell’s jumper late in the quarter.
“Up until the end, we made a few mistakes, but we played passionate,” Mitchell said. “Honestly, they’re a great team, but we had the game in the bag except for a few mistakes. I think the game just got away.”
Simmons and Butler already have developed chemistry and enjoy playing with each other.
Simmons on Butler: “He knows how to play the game at a high level. IQ is very high.”
Butler on Simmons: “He sees plays before they happen and that makes my job easier.”
Pro Football Hall of Famer Cris Carter and Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins sat courtside along with Iverson. Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills sat behind the basket. Iverson rang the ceremonial Liberty Bell and fans roared in anticipation of Butler’s first appearance.
Jazz: After missing eight of his first 10 shots, Mitchell made two in a row and talked trash to fans behind the basket. … Joe Ingles had 14 points and Favors and Rubio each had 13.
76ers: Markelle Fultz made one of two free throws in his first trip to the foul line since his awkward, double-clutch attempt at Miami on Monday. He shuffled the ball back-and-forth in his hands before tossing it up. He finished 2 of 4 from the line. … Redick got a flagrant foul for kicking Ricky Rubio in the face while he air-balled a 3.
Jazz: At Boston on Saturday night.
76ers: At Charlotte on Saturday night.