SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Just give Jordan Clarkson the 6th Man of the Year Award right now.
Clarkson scored a season-high 40 points to send the streaking Utah Jazz past the Philadelphia 76ers 134-123 in a matchup of conference leaders Monday night.
Clarkson hit a career-high eight 3-pointers, and Donovan Mitchell added 24 points to help the Jazz overcome an early 14-point deficit. Utah, which owns the best record in the NBA at 23-5, has won eight straight games and 19 of 20.
“The biggest thing for me is them believing in me,” Clarkson said. “Letting me be myself and embracing me just plays a role in who I am. That gives me confidence. Those guys always come over to the bench and tell me to keep shooting, even when I’m having an off night, even when I’m hot. They’re telling me to shoot the ball no matter what.”
“When Jordan came in and had the performance that he had, we’ve seen that before but that was another level,” said head coach Quin Snyder. “I thought it kept us in the game.”
Clarkson made eight of 13 three-point attempts, 13 of 20 shots overall, as the Jazz improved to 5-0 without starting point guard Mike Conley, who is out with a hamstring injury.
“I’ve never played with anyone like JC in my lifetime, on or off the court,” said Joe Ingles, who added 20 points on eight of 12 shots. “It’s pretty cool to play with someone who is so locked in to what his role is and is so comfortable in what his role is. He’s so happy in his role and he knows what we want him to do and he knows what he needs to do for our team.”
Philadelphia (18-10) was minus big man Joel Embiid, a late scratch because of back tightness. Ben Simmons scored a career-high 42 points, while Tobias Harris added a season-high 36 for the Sixers.
Royce O’Neale hit consecutive 3-pointers to quell Philadelphia’s final rally. His three-pointer from the wing to beat the shot clock gave Utah a 129-118 lead with 2:12 to play.
Simmons scored eight straight points in the fourth quarter to cut the Jazz lead to 110-104 with 8:40 left. Minutes later, he found Harris for a 3 to get Philadelphia within 113-109.
Clarkson set his career scoring high for a game that ended in regulation. He had 42 points in a three-overtime loss to Brooklyn on Feb. 13, 2019.
The Jazz scored 10 straight points as part of an 18-4 run to take their first lead in the second quarter and went up 67-59 on Bojan Bogdanovic’s jumper in the lane. Clarkson was the primary driver of the surge with 21 first-half points to help Utah build a 72-66 halftime lead.
The 76ers scored on 16 straight possessions in the first half and led 24-10 but couldn’t stop the Jazz much, either.
Simmons and Harris took turns isolating and driving to the basket with a full head of stream starting from beyond the 3-point line. Utah tried O’Neale, Rudy Gobert and others but they all had trouble stopping Simmons in the paint.
The Jazz next head to Los Angeles for two games against the Clippers Wednesday and Friday.