Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell, right, goes up to shoot with Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid, left, defending during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Donovan Mitchell scored 22 points, Rudy Gobert had 17 points and 21 rebounds and the Utah Jazz extended their winning streak to six games with a 118-96 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night.
Hassan Whiteside added 14 points and 10 rebounds for Utah.
Joel Embiid had 19 points and nine rebounds for the 76ers. Seth Curry scored 18 points and Tobias Harris 17 for Philadelphia, which had won four of five.
Both teams were playing the second night of a back-to-back, and it was the 76ers who looked tired after halftime.
“I think you go through the ebb and flow of the season, sometimes you just decide not to be tired,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “When you’re playing the right way, it makes it easier.”
The Jazz were coming off a 136-104 win over Minnesota on Wednesday night in which they made 25 3-pointers, two shy of their season high.
“They’re playing free,” Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers said. “They get a lot of 3’s up, they stretch the floor. They’re a tough basketball team, especially offensively.”
But against the Sixers, the Jazz, who finished with 15 3-pointers, used their inside game to take control in the third quarter. Whiteside’s three-point play pushed their advantage to double-digits, and Rudy Gay’s finish from close range and a foul shot for another three-point play gave Utah its biggest lead to that point, 71-58 with 2:27 left in the third.
The Jazz kept it up in the fourth, taking firm command on Jordan Clarkson’s 3-pointer that put them up 99-81 with 7:21 left. Utah’s lead reached as many as 23 points in a dominating fourth quarter.
“I didn’t feel like we had a lot tonight,” Rivers said.
Embiid was back on the court for the seventh straight contest after missing nine in a row due to COVID-19 protocols. He has looked more like himself of late, scoring 32 points and being active in Philadelphia’s 110-106 win at Charlotte on Wednesday, when the 76ers completed a two-game sweep of the host Hornets over three days.
And the four-time All-Star and MVP runner-up last season showed off his unique athleticism for a 7-footer against the Jazz, dribbling the length of the court while twice crossing over Whiteside before finishing with a one-handed dunk with 4:04 remaining in the first quarter.
But Embiid was quiet after halftime, scoring just six points in the second 24 minutes, and his frustration showed when he picked up a technical foul with 5:04 left in the fourth for arguing with the officials.
“That was a rough night shooting the ball, especially from 3,” Embiid said after Philadelphia went 6 of 33 from deep. “When you play against a team like that, you really don’t have room for error and we missed a lot of shots.”
Snyder defended Gobert against comments by Timberwolves Patrick Beverley and Anthony Edwards following Utah’s game in Minnesota on Wednesday. Beverley and Edwards criticized Gobert, saying the three-time NBA defensive player of the year doesn’t match up 1-on-1 against the opponent’s top players.
“He don’t put no fear in my heart,” Edwards said.
Snyder said every opposing team has to adjust for the 7-foot-1 native of France.
“Every team we play, their offensive game plan is how to attack Rudy, or how not to attack him,” Snyder said before Thursday’s contest. “He’s our best isolation defender, the best rim protector in the league.”
Gobert didn’t return barbs at the Timberwolves.
“It’s more funny than anything, but it’s part of the game,” he said. “I stay in my line. I don’t take shots at anyone.”
Jazz: Whiteside returned to the lineup after sitting out two straight due to a left glute contusion.
76ers: Tyrese Maxey had 11 points in his second game back after sitting out a contest with an illness. Maxey went down hard after scoring on a layup with 6:14 left in the second and appeared to hit his head on the court. He went to the locker room, but returned later in the quarter. … Rivers was happy to have his full team at the outset. “They said no injuries, nothing,” he said. “I almost went into shock.” … Embiid briefly left the court with an injury in his abdominal area on his right side that he said bothered him from the first quarter on, but said afterward he didn’t think it was serious.
Jazz: Improved to 10-2 on the road and end a four-game trip on Saturday at Washington.
76ers: Fell to 5-2 with Embiid in the lineup in Philadelphia, and 5-6 overall on their home court. … Are 4-3 since Embiid returned to the lineup on Nov. 27. … Embiid averages about 10 free throws per contest but went to the line just two times. He was 15 of 19 from the stripe Wednesday against Charlotte.
Jazz: At Washington on Saturday.
76ers: Host Golden State on Saturday.