The Utah Jazz (5-3) took care of business on the second night of a back-to-back by putting the Philadelphia 76ers (0-6) to bed early in the second half. I will give a lot of credit to this winless Sixers team, they have some nice players and they work very hard. But they are at a talent deficit right now with their injuries, missing Ben Simmons, Nerlens Noel, and Jerryd Bayless. Of course, Utah was without George Hill, Alec Burks, and Boris Diaw. But Utah is a deep team aiming for homecourt in the Western Conference. Philly is not. So the missing rotation players hurt the 76ers are a lot more than the Jazz tonight. I give them credit, this wasn’t a cake-walk.
Utah was up by 6 after one and advanced that to just an 8 point lead at half. Joel Embiid is a monster, and he can draw fouls at an advanced level for a rookie bigman. (Rudy Gobert fouled out for the second straight game) That doesn’t mean that Embiid won the battle inside, both players had their moments. But Joel’s 14 and 9 looks a little better than Rudy’s 8 and 6. Rudy did have three blocks to Joel’s one, but still, people who didn’t watch this game (which will be at least 90% of all NBA fans and sports writers) will just look at the box score and draw judgement there.
But back to the game, which is a five on five game -- and not one on one.
After halftime the Jazz pulled away, winning the third 25-18, and then finishing them off with a 32-23 fourth quarter. Shelvin Mack (in a start due to George Hill sitting tonight out) settled down, played some defense and made some shots. His 8 point, 5 assist, 2 steal, 2 threes night negated whatever good opponent back-up point guard Sergio Rodriguez did for Philly.
But in the end, it was the Jazz crushing Philly in the paint and just having way too much talent to be messed with. Utah’s defense forced 18 turn overs and here were plenty of transition opportunities — Joe Ingles was schooling them at one point. In return, the Jazz only turned it over 10 times on the night.
It was a pretty fair battle on the glass (45 for Utah, 42 for Philly, only a one offensive rebound difference in favor of the Jazz); but the Jazz blocked 11 shots, and the Sixers only 2. Philly could have helped themselves by hitting threes — Robert Covington did, but no one else followed his lead. They would go 7/21 as a team on a night where they were missing free throws and shooting just 40.3 FG%.
Gordon Hayward, Joe Johnson, and Rodney Hood toyed with them in the second half, and this game wasn’t very even at all — even with the Jazz missing so many rotation guys and being on the second night of a back-to-back. G-Time would finish with 20 / 7 / 5 / 1. Hood with 18 / 2 / 1 / 1 / 1. Johnson got most of his scoring in the fourth to close the game, added 9 / 5 / 1. Those three, along with wing interlopers Ingles and Dante Exum, are more than enough to carry the day on any given night.
But man, Derrick Favors? Rudy was in foul trouble in this one, so Derrick got some time to shine. He delivered a 16 points, 14 rebound, 3 block, 1 steal, 1 assist performance where he shot over 50% from the field and got to the line 8 times. Not too shabby. The power forwards were really good all around. Trey Lyles led the team with a +28 in +/- and blocked some shots and was generally okay-ish. In garbage time Joel Bolomboy managed 3 rebounds and one block in two minutes of action. Crazy.
The overlying theme here is Jazz depth. They have talent as well. And this is why the team ended up with a 25 point win on the road on the second night of a back-to-back.
Utah has a day off, and then will play the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday.