PHILADELPHIA (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah Jazz are limping home from a brutal 5-game road trip.
Tobias Harris scored 26 points, while Al Horford added 17 to help the Philadelphia 76ers win for the eighth time in nine games and improve to 10-0 at home with a 103-94 victory over the Utah Jazz.
One night after the Raptors led the Jazz by 40 points at halftime, the Sixers built a 26-point lead in the second quarter and withstood a second half rally by the Jazz.
“To be down like we were early, particularly after last night’s game on a back to back,” said Jazz head coach Quin Snyder. “To see our team battle like that says a lot about our team. Everybody in the locker room knows we can play better, but the way you play better is by competing.”
“It’s been a long road trip,” said Donovan Mitchell, who scored 18 points. “It’s tough. We’re getting the shots we want and the looks we want, but things just aren’t falling. We’ll figure it out, though.”
Ennis, Philly’s super sub, had the crowd going wild in the first half when he was fouled on a 3 and did three quick pushups to stretch the lead to 26 points. Ennis missed the free throw but it hardly mattered at home. The Sixers made 13 3s and have started to play more like a team expected to contend for an Eastern Conference title than one that slogged through a 2-5 stretch in mid-November.
“It’s in the moment,” Ennis said. “I didn’t mean nothing by it. And one.”
Horford did his part, scoring five baskets in the first quarter for 12 points, to go with one ridiculous block. Bojan Bogdanovic took a turnover the other way and went straight down the middle for a layup attempt, when a hustling Horford caught up from the right and twisted his body for the rejection.
Matisse Thybulle turned a steal into an alley-oop dunk for Ben Simmons and Harris came right back for a 3 that made it 52-27, a game the Sixers had in control until a late push by the Jazz got them within single digits.
“You’re in the hole like that, you look up and it can be overwhelming,” Snyder said. “I’m not trying to spin this like we’re rejoicing what happened tonight. We’ve got to play better. There are things we can do better. We’re going to improve. I feel good about that prospect given the fact we saw how we responded.”
“It’s nice until they make a run,” Simmons said. “They’re always going to fight.”
Rudy Gobert led the Jazz with 27 points.
The glaring blemish for the 76ers was another off-night for All-Star center Joel Embiid. Four games after Embiid went scoreless (0 for 11) against Toronto, he scored 16 points on just 5-of-13 shooting. Embiid played 29 minutes and continued to defy the load management expectations that had been set in recent seasons for the oft-injured big man. He looked gassed at the end of the fourth, right when the Jazz made a push to close within 10 with 4 minutes left. Joel Engles made it 99-92 on a 3-pointer with 57 seconds left to make it a bit uneasy for the Sixers before it dragged to its inevitable conclusion.
“There’s a lot of teams, I think, in that situation that wouldn’t have responded the way this team did,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.
Jazz point guard Mike Conley left in the second half with a tight left hamstring.
The Jazz come home to host the Lakers Wednesday night.