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Sixers escape Utah with a win thanks to Embiid’s game-winner

James Harden was huge late in the game and Joel Embiid sunk a fadeaway late to give the Sixers’ an uncomfortable win.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Utah Jazz Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t pretty, but it works.

The Sixers kicked off their five-game road trip by eeking out a victory 118-117 agains the Utah Jazz.

Joel Embiid gave the Sixers 30 points, including a one-legged fadeaway with four seconds left to the give the Sixers the lead. James Harden was truly the hero, with 31 points, six rebounds and 11 assists.

Philly got two whole games worth of reps with their starting five before the injury bug struck again, as Tobias Harris missed tonight’s game after colliding knees with Isaiah Joe on Thursday. The Jazz missed some firepower as well, as Lauri Markkanen and Collin Sexton were inactive.

Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.

First Quarter

  • The mountain range throwback jerseys are a thousand times better than any other uniform combo the Jazz roll out these days. They can throw all of those neon green kits in the bin.
  • You couldn’t have asked for a better start offensively for the Sixers. They shot a sizzling 65.2 percent from the floor in the opening quarter. A couple of James Harden drives to basket opened things up for the offense. Harden dished out six assists in the first.
  • The early returns on the three-guard lineup of Maxey, Melton and Harden have been pretty promising. Melton adds a defensive presence lacking with the other two starting, he had a swarming block on Jordan Clarkson early. A near-flawless quarter gave the Sixers an early 17-point lead.

Second Quarter

  • The offensive momentum from the starters was picked up by Shake Milton, who made his first five shots of the game. How Shake continues to play with Maxey will be something worth monitoring, as Maxey has been the one tasked with running the second unit as of late.
  • Another second quarter lull allowed the Jazz to climb right back into the game. Philly shot just 39 percent in the following quarter, as their 20-point lead was whittled down to as little as four.
  • Oddly enough, both quarters of the first half were ended by a wild buzzer beater. It was Talen Horton-Tucker who ended the first on a half-court heave. Joel Embiid beat the buzzer near the end of the second with a banked in three the Sixers desperately needed, pushing their lead back to 10 at the break.

Third Quarter

  • Tyrese Maxey had only made three three-pointers in his last three games. Tonight, he was 5 11 from downtown, but struggled from inside the arc.
  • It was odd that Matisse Thybulle didn’t check back into the game until Jordan Clarkson went back to the bench, as Clarkson was Utah’s primary source of offense. It didn’t seem to make much of a difference as the 14-3 Jazz run continued with Thybulle on the floor. Clarkson would finish with 38 on the night.
  • It’s incredible how stagnant Philly’s offense became, given how good their ball movement was in the first quarter. After scoring 41 points in the opening frame, the Sixers combined for 47 in the next two, nursing just a three-point lead going into the fourth.

Fourth Quarter

  • Unsurprisingly, a big reason for the Sixers offensive struggles as the game went on was their three point shots not falling. They shot 6-18 from deep in the second and third quarters. James Harden himself was 0-5 from downtown before the final quarter begun, but then he got hot, going 4-5 from three just when Philly needed it.
  • In case this game wasn’t already a tough enough watch for Sixers fans, Tyrese Maxey had to come out of the game after getting hit in the midsection.
  • This wasn’t Joel Embiid’s best play down the stretch. He didn’t have his jumper falling late, even missing a key free throw with less than a minute to go. On the other hand, Walker Kessler did an excellent job with Embiid on both ends of the floor. The rookie finished with 15 points on 7-7 shooting along with 12 rebounds. Despite Embiid not being sharp at all down the stretch, James Harden executed a pick-and-roll beautifully to get Embiid a wide-open 10-footer.
  • The Sixers’ road trip continues in L.A. Sunday when they take on the Lakers.

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