The Utah Jazz took on a Philadelphia 76ers team that was without reigning MVP Joel Embiid tonight. Embiid has been ruled out with a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee. Unfortunately for the Jazz though, Tyrese Maxey chose this game to prove he deserved today’s announcement of his first-time All-Star appearance. Maxey came out firing on all cylinders, dropping 32 points in the first half and ending up with 51 overall leading the Sixers to a 127-124 victory.
It was a back-and-forth night for our Utah Jazz, as they trailed for much of the game before making it a close affair in the fourth quarter. Maxey dominated the first and second quarters, but the Jazz came storming back in the second half due to strong performances from Lauri Markkanen and Collin Sexton. The duo continues to make themselves the untouchable centerpieces of this rebuilding team and nearly willed the team to a victory in the final moments.
Markkanen went 4 of 9 from the three-point line and ended the contest with 28 points and 10 rebounds. Most of his contributions came in the waning moments of the game, with a couple of huge shots to keep the Jazz in it. Sexton added his own 22 points with 6 assists to pair with his usual passionate play.
The Jazz, unfortunately, struggled defensively however, apart from a strong performance from Walker Kessler and Kris Dunn in the first half. Inexplicably, both players only played about 15 minutes and didn’t see much time in the second half, with Jordan Clarkson soaking up a lot of those minutes. Clarkson had a rough game overall, only shooting 1-7 from three, though he did contribute with a couple timely shots in the 4th quarter and added 10 assists.
Jazz down 71-61 at the half; defensive issues of the last few games continue. Tyrese Maxey has 32 and I truly would not be stunned if he scored 60 tonight.— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) February 2, 2024
Though they kept it close throughout the 4th quarter and had a chance to tie the game in the final moments, they were unable to close it out. Maxey’s 51 points proved to be too much, with Tobias Harris also chipping in 28 points and Kelly Oubre Jr shooting well with 16 points.
Utah now moves to 24-26 on the year and have lost 3 straight games to drop them to 10th slot for the Play-In Tournament. It’ll be interesting to see what the trade deadline brings to this inconsistent, but entertaining roster. With all likelihood, a couple of players may be on the move...Jordan Clarkson, Kelly Olynyk, and Talen Horton-Tucker being the likely odd men out.