The Utah Jazz led the 76ers until right before the 2nd half. It had all the makings of a great TNT game until Utah forgot to come back for the last 24 minutes. After the half it was all Philadelphia with Joel Embiid and JJ Redick leading the way with 23 and 24 points, respectively. The Utah Jazz would end up losing this one 114-97 and, like their game against the Thunder, will be wishing they could have this game back.
On the NBA’s Australian night, it is fitting that Dante Exum’s star shined brightest among the Australians. While Ben Simmons had the Triple Double (13 points, 14 rebounds, 7 assists), Dante Exum exploded off of the bench for 20 minutes in 21 minutes on 6 of 14 shooting with 3 of 5 from three. He was a monster defensively and did it all on National Television.
The Jazz’s other Aussie, Joe Ingles, struggled while finishing with 9 points on 4 of 12 shooting with only 1 rebound and 3 assists. It wasn’t Joe’s night.
For the non-Aussie crew, most struggled. Rubio was 1-10 from the floor with 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Jae Crowder was 1 of 4 from the field. Thabo Sefolosha only took two shots in 17 minutes and only made 1 of them. Derrick Favors played great defense on Ben Simmons to start the game then struggled against the much larger Embiid. He finished 1 of 3 from the field with 4 points and 7 rebounds.
Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert were good offensively, Donovan had 23 points on 10 of 20 shooting and Rudy Gobert had 17 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists. But unfortunately defensively it was a different story.
Embiid had this game marked for the reigning defensive player of the year, and he took it to Rudy Gobert. Gobert and Ingles had the two worst +/- differentials in the game with -15 and -17, respectively. The Utah Jazz struggled on defensive end highlighted with missed backcuts, miscommunicated switches, and even Donovan giving up the same alley-oop play to Butler three times—luckily, Butler didn’t convert on one of them.
It just wasn’t hallmark Utah defense. Utah finished with 11 steals, but ballhawking isn’t defense, it’s gambling. Philly shot 50% from the field and 37% from three. It seemed at times that anything Redick through at the rim was going in. He was 6 of 9 from the field.
Fortunately for Utah, they finish what was their toughest stretch of the season. While they still have tough competition going into January, they play many more home games with some easy teams to break up some of the playoff intensity monotony that their schedule has given. The Utah Jazz finished 3-2 against Portland, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, and Golden State. Not bad, but they could have easily been 4-1 if they finished better against Oklahoma City.
Utah’s next game is against the New York Knicks. Past Jazzmen Trey Burke and Enes Kanter will return to Utah. Kanter recently was thrown out of a game in Milwaukee for an altercation with Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Notes and Takeaways
Dante Exum had himself a game. He even had a dunk that made Embiid make a business decision.
The Philadelphia 76ers are showing what happens if you are willing to take risks on the trade market. Jimmy Butler is turning out to be a great addition to their team and making life difficult for opposing teams playing them. Philadelphia was looking like the 5th best team in the East before the trade. After the trade, they have the potential of an Eastern Conference Champion contender. They’re still working out the kinks, but they have that potential. You can’t say that about Utah.
With January 15th looming—the date Dante Exum and Derrick Favors become eligible for trade—expect the Utah Jazz to be aggressive as they still have the potential to get blown out if all their cylinders aren’t firing.
This was a dirty play by Joel Embiid. Joel flops and almost ends the season for Ricky Rubio.
Joel Embiid trips over Rudy Gobert and takes out Ricky Rubio below the knee, everyone seems to be ok pic.twitter.com/uTObFfvxua— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) December 28, 2018
Luckily, Rubio was able to walk it off. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. Oh ... here’s another instance of Embiid almost getting thrown out for something dirty. This time Ingles has an inadvertent hit to the face—foul on Joe Ingles—and Embiid almost exacts vigilante justice.
Joel Embiid couldve ended Ingles here pic.twitter.com/5ZoCCzdjjl— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) December 28, 2018
The Utah Jazz lost this one on their own, but let’s talk about the officials ... again. There were many times where Embiid traveled (pivot foot, anyone???), Marc Davis calls a foul where he can’t even see the action of the foul, and the game got away from the officials again. Luckily, for the referees, this game got away from Utah as well so the microscope wasn’t as magnified on their uneven effort. Both fan bases have ample reason to get fired up about the officiating.
But it bears repeating, the terrible calls swung the game toward Philadelphia right before the end of the 1st half. Utah couldn’t overcome theirselves in this game, so many will overlook the rollercoaster calls in this game.