The Utah Jazz dominated a shell of the Philadelphia 76ers tonight in Salt Lake City. The game, which has become somewhat of a rivalry as of late between opposing fanbases, was missing many of the faces that have turned it into a rivalry. Philadelphia was missing Joel Embiid, Matisse Thybulle, Danny Green, and Ben Simmons (if you can even count him as missing at this point).
That means tonight’s game did not have the Gobert vs Embiid, Gobert vs Simmons, Mitchell vs Simmons appeal. Instead, it showcased two teams desperate for a win to get back on track. The Jazz came into the game having won only one of their last five games. The 76ers have not faired much better as of late entering the game on a four-game losing streak.
The game started with both teams coming out hot. From the tip-off, Shake Milton and the 76ers scored a quick 8 points. Suddenly, Rudy Gobert took over and the Jazz’s defense stiffened and they went on a quick run to make it 15-8 with 6:53 left in the first quarter. Gobert had already logged two blocks less than halfway through the first quarter and Mitchell got out to a hot start scoring 6-points.
After the Jazz built a 10-point lead, the short-handed 76ers made a run to make it a 30-28 game. Stop me if this sounds familiar, but the Jazz went cold, shooting only 2/10 from three, and relying too heavily on Gobert for defense, although Gobert did play extremely well on that end with three blocks in the first quarter alone.
The Jazz opened the second quarter with a quick, loud answer of an 8-0 run in the first two minutes of the quarter. Gobert seemed to contest every shot the 76ers took and the Jazz started sharing the ball on the offensive end. It resulted in a Paschall three, Gobert dunk, and Clarkson layup.
The 76ers took a timeout to try to cool off the Jazz. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, the timeout only made the Jazz hotter as the Flamethrower scored a quick four points and Gobert got his fourth block leading to a 44-32 lead with 7:34 remaining in the half.
At that point, the route was on as the Jazz lead swelled all the way to 23 points which was whittled down to a 63-47 lead at halftime. It was a dominating performance for Utah (as it should be against the shell of Philadelphia). At the half, the Jazz led in total rebounds 34-19, points in the paint 36-28, and blocks 7-2.
The Jazz played an inside-out game in the first half. After only making two threes and shooting just 20% from beyond the arc in the first quarter, Utah found success in the paint which led to success from three. By halftime, the Jazz’s three-point percentage had climbed to 35.3%, which is still not ideal but showed significant improvement.
At halftime, Utah’s scoring was very balanced. Bojan Bogdanovic had 12 points, Gobert had 9, Mitchell had 11, Clarkson had 11, and Whiteside had 8. Gobert also tied his game-high this season with 4 blocks all in the first half.
Within one minute of the third quarter starting, Gobert had officially achieved yet another double-double. The first break of the second half mercifully came for Philly with 9-minutes left in the third quarter. The Jazz had gone on a run to grow the lead to 22-points behind a Mitchell layup, A Gobert dunk, and a Bogdanovic three.
Just like earlier in the game, the break did nothing to help cool the Jazz down as they forced the 76ers to take yet another timeout only one-minute later after Conley hit a three and then assisted Gobert on a dunk on the next possession resulting in a very quick 5-0 run to expand the lead to 27-points.
The Jazz really dominated the game from that point on. The 76ers made a couple of small runs but did not realistically have enough firepower to overcome a confident Jazz team. Bogey was blistering hot tonight. With 4:05 left in the third, he had shot 8/11 from the field including 5/7 from three for 23-points.
The Jazz led by a score of 97-66 at the end of the third quarter. Clarkson had a good third-quarter scoring 6 points with Gobert also scoring 6 points. Gobert was also already up to 17 rebounds at the end of the quarter.
All three Jazz all-stars did not play much of the fourth quarter. With 5:30 left in the game, the Jazz emptied their bench with a 30-point lead. This led to Jared Butler igniting the crowd when he hit a three with about three minutes left in the game.
The final score was 120-85 with the Jazz getting back to their winning ways. Utah finished with six Jazz players (Bogdanovic (27), Gobert (15), Conley (13), Mitchell (13), Whiteside (10), and Clarkson (20)) all scoring in double-figures. All 13 Jazz players who touched the court tonight managed to score. They shared the wealth.
Perhaps just as impressive is how the Jazz managed to defend the 76ers’ two best scorers playing tonight. They held Tobias Harris and Seth Curry to a combined 5/17 for 17 points and a -45 +/- on the court.
Georges Niang, affectionately known as the Minivan, had a relatively quiet return to Utah. He hit his first three with about 4 minutes remaining in the first quarter. In the final minute of the third quarter, Joe Ingles had the Minivan blow a tire when he crossed him metaphorically out of his shoes and hit a three. Ingles was laughing at his friend as he jogged back down the court.
Playing inside-out worked perfectly for Utah tonight. When three-pointers were not falling in the first quarter, they went inside and had success there. At that point, they worked their way back out and finished the game shooting a very respectable 42.1% from three on 38 shots. Maybe this is the formula to get the Jazz’s shooting back on track this season. It will be something to watch going forward.
The Utah Jazz will be back in action Thursday night taking on the Toronto Raptors.