Donovan Mitchell Drops 22 as Jazz Beat 76ers with Joel Embiid Playing Through Injury

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVDecember 10, 2021

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 9: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz handles the ball against Tyrese Maxey #0 of the Philadelphia 76ers on December 9, 2021 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Donovan Mitchell finally cooled off some on Thursday night. No biggie—the rest of the Utah Jazz picked up the slack. 

Led by eight players scoring double-digit points, the Jazz beat the Philadelphia 76ers 118-96.


Clarkson taps it to Gobert for the jam 🤝 <a href="https://t.co/Vd7wvpkwLm">pic.twitter.com/Vd7wvpkwLm</a>


Rudy Gay finishes with some finesse 🔥 <a href="https://t.co/nvLuBBhSdL">pic.twitter.com/nvLuBBhSdL</a>


Spida banks it in from downtown 💰 <a href="https://t.co/kp9rZsFc3c">pic.twitter.com/kp9rZsFc3c</a>

Mitchell came into the game en fuego, with 30 or more points in four straight games. While he couldn't keep that streak going, he and the Jazz outdueled Sixers superstar center Joel Embiid, who has been excellent since returning from a three-week COVID-19 absence in mid-November but left Thursday's game late in the third quarter with abdominal pain.

By the time he returned with just over nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Sixers found themselves in a 16-point hole, a deficit they wouldn't overcome.

Serena Winters @SerenaWinters

On the <a href="https://twitter.com/NBATV?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NBATV</a> broadcast <a href="https://twitter.com/Dennis3DScott?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Dennis3DScott</a> reported Joel Embiid’s pain as ‘severe’ but said he wanted to try and play through it. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Sixers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Sixers</a> <a href="https://t.co/7N6R6asUJ6">https://t.co/7N6R6asUJ6</a>

The result bumped the Jazz up to 18-7 on the season, while Philly fell to 14-12. 

Key Stats

Donovan Mitchell, Utah: 22 points, six assists

Rudy Gobert, Utah: 17 points, 21 rebounds, two blocks

Mike Conley, Utah: 10 points, four assists

Joel Embiid, PHI: 19 points, nine rebounds, three steals

Tobias Harris, PHI: 17 points, seven rebounds

Seth Curry, PHI: 18 points, four assists

The Sixers Can't Seem To Catch A Break

Ben Simmons wants to be traded and hasn't played a game for the team thus far this season. Countless players have missed time due to injuries or the NBA's health and safety protocols. Both Tyrese Maxey and Embiid temporarily left Thursday's game with knocks. 

Rich Hofmann @rich_hofmann

Joel Embiid sees Bassey coming to the scorer's table, takes a foul and gets a technical for his trouble. His night is done. <br><br>Sixers have been completely outclassed tonight but obviously Embiid's health is the biggest concern moving forward.

Tony Jones @Tjonesonthenba

The Jazz lead Philly 94-78….the Sixers don’t really have the shooting or the playmaking to survive for long with Embiid off the floor, and the Jazz rotation is so deep with both that they are creating a ton of separation. 9:53 remaining

The Sixers have struggled to maintain any positive momentum this season given all of those adversities, and in many ways the loss to the Jazz felt like a microcosm of their season as a whole. 

Granted, it didn't help that they shot 6-of-33 (18.2 percent) from three.

So long as they have Embiid, the Sixers are a threat. But their margin for error is razor-thin, especially while the Simmons ordeal remains unresolved. Against the league's top teams like the Jazz, that becomes more obvious.

Utah's Balance And Depth Continues To Be A Strength

Joe Ingles, Rudy Gay, Jordan Clarkson and Hassan Whiteside came off the bench and combined for 46 points. Utah held a 48-31 advantage in bench points. Four starters scored in double digits.

Tony Jones @Tjonesonthenba

There’s just nowhere to hide bad defenders against the Jazz….

Steve Jones Jr. @stevejones20

Really like the dynamic Rudy Gay brings to the table for the Jazz.

Paul Hudrick @PaulHudrick

Sixers reserves really letting them down tonight.

You don't need Mitchell to play like a superhero when the supporting cast shows up like that. 

While the Sixers struggled to hit their perimeter shots, the Jazz finished 15-of-40 (37.5 percent) from deep. They played excellent team basketball, with 22 assists. This was quality, efficient basketball, the type coaches love.

The Jazz's lack of a second true superstar next to Mitchell tends to hurt them come the postseason. But there's no doubt that their depth and balance make them a threat to compete for the top seed yet again. 

What's Next?

Utah travels to Washington, D.C., to face the Wizards on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET, while the Sixers host the Golden State Warriors that same day at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC.