Sixers fall to Jazz 120-109 for second straight loss

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Utah Jazz’s Lauri Markkanen, left, goes up for a dunk as Philadelphia 76ers’ Nicolas Batum watches during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

The Philadelphia 76ers faced off against the Utah Jazz on Saturday night in the second half of a back-to-back. On Friday night, the Sixers were destroyed at home by the New York Knicks by 36 points. Philadelphia couldn’t get anything going on offense while the Knicks were red-hot.

Utah also came into this matchup on the second night of a back-to-back, having played the Boston Celtics on Friday night. The Jazz were blown out by 29 in Boston, suffering a similar fate to the Sixers. Both squads are looking to bounce back from disappointing losses, with Philadelphia trying to do so shorthanded, as they were without Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, Robert Covington, and De’Anthony Melton.

Sixers/Jazz game recap

Utah Jazz’s Lauri Markkanen, center, reacts to his dunk during the first half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024, in Philadelphia. The Jazz won 120-109. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

This game started like one would expect, with the Sixers playing without four real rotation players and the key cog to their team. Offensively, the team struggled a little, facing the Jazz’s zone defense. The Jazz played 2-3, and Box-and-1 zone the entire quarter to hinder Tyrese Maxey’s effectiveness. They looked to close driving lanes and take the ball out of his hands. Bad shooting allowed the Jazz to get off to a good start against the Sixers and take a four-point lead after one.

The second quarter saw crazy lineups for the home team as they fought to try to stay close to Utah. We saw a lineup that included Patrick Beverley, Paul Reed, Mo Bamba, Marcus Morris Sr., and Jaden Springer. That shows you how short-handed they were in this matchup. Bad shooting and fouls made it a choppy quarter that allowed the Jazz to take a one-point lead into halftime.

During the second half, the Sixers’ horrid shooting continued, and Tyrese Maxey continued to struggle. The Jazz took advantage of bad shooting by knocking down threes on the other end and taking advantage of the 76ers not having an inside presence. Lauri Markannen went off in the second half and helped single-handedly put the Sixers away.

The Jazz built a double-digit lead and never looked back, defeating the shorthanded Sixers 120-109. The Jazz were led by Markannen (33 points and 13 rebounds) and Collin Sexton (22 points and 10 assists). Philly was paced by Tyrese Maxey (25 points and 9 assists) and Kelly Oubre Jr. (24 points, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds). Take a look at three takeaways from tonight’s game:

Out the mud?

Philadelphia 76ers’ Paul Reed, left, tries to get past Washington Wizards’ Jared Butler during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Dec. 11, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Since Paul Reed has resigned with the Sixers, he hasn’t had the greatest start to the season. He played well at the end of last season and in the playoffs, and many hoped he would follow that performance up with an improved game. In a game where a ton of points needed to be accounted for, he had one of his best games offensively.

The Jazz played a lot of zone defense and left Bball Paul wide open in the middle of the zone to either score or make the right plays. Reed ended the night with 16 points on 7-12 shooting, with his points coming mostly from little mid-range bunnies. If Reed wants to keep ahold of the backup spot, they need a little more rim protection from him while he’s in the game.

Lost opportunities

Philadelphia 76ers’ KJ Martin goes up for a dunk during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons, Friday, Dec. 15, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

With Philly extremely shorthanded, some low-minute players got a chance to contribute and show that they should be playing. Players like Jaden Springer and KJ Martin played and tried to make their mark to varying levels of success. Martin showed off his athleticism and ability to finish at the rim, something that this team really needs. It remains to be seen if he can crack the rotation, but his play and ability in the open court is something this team could use in their lineup from time to time.

Springer showed some glimpses earlier in the season for the Sixers, but his latest chunk of minutes didn’t go well. He hasn’t been able to hit the corner three when open, struggled to finish when near the basket, and his defense hasn’t been the best. He earned a shot during the preseason but hasn’t been able to capitalize.

Possible trade targets?

Utah Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson shoots as Philadelphia 76ers’ Tyrese Maxey, left, watches during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024, in Philadelphia. The Jazz won 120-109. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

The Utah Jazz aren’t tanking, but they aren’t expected to compete for a playoff spot, so they could be open for business as the trade deadline approaches. Philly could be interested in two Jazz players who made their presence felt in this game. Lauri Markkanen and Jordan Clarkson are both players that contenders around the league could be trying to pry away from Utah. Both players have their flaws but could provide something this team needs.

Markkanen, who was an all-star last season, showed that his scoring and shooting would fit well around Embiid and Maxey. Clarkson could fit the role of a scorer and ball handler off the bench, playing the microwave scorer role. There is no doubt that Daryl Morey watched this game and is looking at all options to improve the team.

The Sixers suit up against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday to try to bounce back from their two loss. You can catch the game on NBC Sports Network and 97.5 The Fanatic.