The Sixers suffered their second defeat of the early season tonight at the hands of the Utah Jazz. It’s Philadelphia’s second loss in a row following their 114-109 loss in Phoenix a couple of nights ago.
Tonight, the Sixers struggled to keep up, trailing most of the second half and falling down by as many as 13 with around 4 minutes to go in the third. But led by Joel Embiid, who had a game high 27 points, 16 boards, three dimes and two blocks they had their chances and cut the Jazz lead down to two with a few minutes remaining. They just didn’t execute down the stretch. A few missed free throws, a few costly turnovers, a couple defensive breakdowns and that was a wrap.
Donovan Mitchell hurt them with 24 points and 8 assists, and the Jazz’s big free agent signing Bojan Bogdanović had 20 points, 6 boards and 5 assists himself plus a dagger triple late in the contest. Big time trade acquisition Mike Conley controlled the tempo and Rudy Gobert was able to protect the rim and force the Sixers into what felt like loads of perimeter jump shots before crunch time.
Josh Richardson was able to bounce back a bit from a rough game in Phoenix. He had 24 points on just 13 shots, for a very efficient night. But he had a costly turnover in the games closing moments. Al Horford was stellar in defeat in Phoenix but was nowhere near as effective tonight. The veteran leader struggled to just 3 makes in his 14 attempts and never looked very comfortable out there. He’s had to play loads of minutes with the injury and suspension to Embiid previously, perhaps the extra minutes caught up with him this evening.
The big story aside from the loss though is the injury to Ben Simmons. After logging just 10 minutes the Sixers’ ironman appeared to hurt his right shoulder:
Saw Ben Simmons get banged up on this play. Not exactly sure if this is what caused the injury. Kinda looked like Simmons shook it off. pic.twitter.com/M5q0jDjzRi— The Extra Points (@The_ExtraPoints) November 7, 2019
Serena Winters of NBCS-Philly said it’s a minor AC joint sprain:
Ben Simmons has a minor sprain of the AC joint in his right shoulder. He will be reevaluated tomorrow in Denver.— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) November 7, 2019
Football fans know that if it is truly minor this injury tends to take 1-3 weeks to heal properly.
The Sixers really missed Embiid in Phoenix and Simmons in Utah. As crummy as the bench as a whole looked at times over the two losses the team likely would have come away with a couple of wins if their core was available both nights. Hopefully the news out of Denver tomorrow is positive for Ben.
Things won’t get much easier. They’ll visit the Nuggets on Friday and almost certainly be without Simmons.