Sixers Bell Ringer standings
Joel Embiid - 12
James Harden - 11
Tobias Harris - 5
Tyrese Maxey - 4
Shake Milton - 4
Paul Reed - 2
De’Anthony Melton - 1
Georges Niang - 1
Montrezl Harrell - 1
The Philadelphia Sixers eked out a 118-117 last-second victory over the Utah Jazz on the road to kick off a five-game road trip through the west.
Tobias Harris was ruled out for this one due to knee soreness after suffering an injury during the Sixers’ loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night. The Jazz were much more short-handed, however, with star 7-footer Lauri Markannen on the bench due to a hip injury in addition to Collin Sexton, Kelly Olynyk and Rudy Gay all sidelined with injuries.
This one started exactly how it should have looking at the two lineups. The Sixers posted a 41-point first quarter, their highest tally for a first frame since March 2021. The visitors established a quick double-digit lead thanks to some hot hands, with the Sixers shooting 15-for-23 (65.2 percent) from the floor and 6-for-11 from long range in the first.
The second was a different story (and a familiar story at that). What was at one point a 20-point lead was quickly chipped away to single digits courtesy of a Jazz 11-0 run. Add in a few more Sixer turnovers and Utah were right back in this one around halftime. A last-second Joel Embiid triple had the Sixers leading 66-56 headed into the locker room.
Another run for the Jazz in the third and suddenly this game was competitive. The Sixers shooting 7-for-22 from the floor for just 22 third-quarter points certainly contributed to the Jazz’s resurgence. The trend continued in the fourth, with nothing seeming to fall for the Sixers, allowing the Jazz to tie the game early in the final frame. Utah remained close until they finally took their first lead of the game with less than a minute to play. With just 4.9 seconds to play, however, the Sixers retook the lead by just one point, surviving the Jazz’s last second three attempt and holding on to victory.
Exhale. This game was way more competitive than it had any right to be given the lineups, but a win is a win nonetheless. The Sixers finish this back-to-back at the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night. Until then, let’s get to the Bell Ringer.
Joel Embiid: 30 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers
Another day, another 30 points for Embiid. This is getting predictable. There was really little resistance the Jazz could put up to stop Embiid. The Jazz could put two and even three men on Embiid in the paint and he was still powering through for close buckets and drawing fouls from the beginning. Embiid also shot 2-for-2 from long range in the first half, including a last-second triple to extend the Sixers’ lead to ten at halftime. Because of the Sixers’ overall performance and allowing the Jazz to stay in the game, this felt like a quiet night by Embiid’s standards. The performance was especially marred by poor shooting down the stretch in the fourth, when the Sixers were desperately trying to hold on to their lead. Nevertheless, he hit the game-winning jumper with 4.9 seconds to play and ended up with 30 points in this one.
James Harden: 31 points, 6 rebounds, 11 assists, 2 turnovers
Harden showed offensive aggression from the jump, driving into contact and weaving through the shorthanded Jazz defense, drawing fouls and sinking close range buckets. He also drew a ton of attention from the Jazz defense on every drive, forcing the undermanned group to crash in to the paint leaving his Sixers teammates open for quick catch-and-shoots or drives of their own. He started the trend early of taking advantage of the Jazz’s lack of speed in transition for a few of his now-signature long range dimes. Ball movement was impressive for the Sixers tonight, and that’s largely thanks to Harden, who had 11 assists. Harden put the team on his back in the final frame, sinking four threes and scoring 16 straight of the Sixers’ points to help the visitors secure the win in the fourth. Harden ended up leading the Sixers with 31 points in his double-double in this one.
Tyrese Maxey: 21 points (5 3-pointers), 3 rebounds, 1 assist
Going into Saturday’s contest, Maxey had shot just 30.6 percent from three-point range since returning from injury on Dec. 30. It hasn’t stopped him from trying, attempting 5.1 from long range in that time, but his shots have simply seemed off. Until Saturday night, that is. Maxey shot 4-for-6 from beyond the arc in the first half and sank another from long range in the second half. He missed a few more in the second and struggled from inside the arc, but it was good to see the kid getting back into the groove from three-point range.
Shake Milton: 17 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 turnover
Milton came off the bench with the hot hand Saturday night, going 5-for-5 before missing a shot, including sinking two from long range for 12 points in his first nine minutes on the floor. The timing of his scoring, coming during a slow second period for the Sixers, was pivotal in Philadelphia being able to hold on to their lead ended into the halftime break. Shake finished with 17 points shooting 7-for-12 from the floor and 3-for-5 from beyond the arc.
Who is the Sixers Bell Ringer for Saturday night at the Utah Jazz?
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