Here are my key takeaways and “best” and “worst” awards from the 76ers’ 107-86 victory over the Utah Jazz on Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
- The Sixers need to get Amir Johnson more minutes, even if it means sliding Richaun Holmes to power forward in certain lineups. Johnson showed once again Monday night why he’s too valuable to rack up DNP- coach’s decisions. He was a beast off the bench one game after not having his number called. The 13th-year veteran finished with eight points on 4-for-4 shooting and had game and season highs of 13 rebounds and four blocked shots. The most telling sign of his impact was that the Jazz didn’t have an offensive rebound during his 21 minutes, 1 seconds on the court.
- Joel Embiid is still getting into opponents’ heads. With 4:13 remaining, Embiid blocked Donovan Mitchell’s shot and yelled, “Get that [stuff] out of here” after Mitchell fell underneath the basket. The 6-foot-3, 211-pound Mitchell got up and lightly tapped the 7-2, 283-pound Embiid, who flopped to the court. The Jazz point guard was called for a technical foul. Embiid later described it as being “fake-shoved” and conceded that he flopped.
- This ugly victory showed how far the Sixers have come. A year ago, everything had to go basically right for them to pull out victories. However, they won Monday despite having one of their worst offensive performances of the season. The Sixers hit a season-low four three-pointers in 15 attempts. They also went 15 for 22 (68.2 percent) from the foul line. But they sustained their lead by dominating the boards (55-34 rebounding edge) and playing solid defense.
- Can you just give Ben Simmons the rookie-of-the-year award now? The Sixers point guard, once again, showed why he’s one of the league’s elite players. Simmons scored 22 of his game- and career-high 27 points after intermission. He also finished with 10 rebounds, four steals, two assists and four turnovers for his fourth straight double-double and 11th of the season.
- The Sixers just might have to live with unforced turnovers. A lot of it has to do with trying to make the extra pass. A prime example came on when T.J. McConnell drove the lane. Instead of trying a layup, he passed to a wide-open Simmons on the perimeter. The pass was out of Simmons’ reach and landed in the backcourt for a turnover. But you can’t single out McConnell. The Sixers had several similar plays en route to committing 20 turnovers.
“Best” and “worst” awards
- Best performance: Simmons gets this over teammates JJ Redick and Johnson. While he had only two assists, the 6-foot-10, 240-pounder made his mark by attacking the basket after intermission. Why rack up assists when they can’t stop you from going to the rim? Plus, he would have had more assists if not for teammates’ missing a lot of bunnies.
- Worst performance: This was a tough one, but I had to give it to Rodney Hood. The Jazz sixth man laid an egg against the Sixers after scoring 31 points vs. Orlando on Saturday. He also averaged 26 points in the three games entering Monday’s matchup. However, Hood struggled through 5-for-17 shooting to finish with 13 points. He made just 1 of his 6 three-pointers and graded out at a game-worst minus-23.
- Best defensive performance: Johnson gets this over Robert Covington for his stellar rim protection.
- Worst statistic: The Sixers’ three-point shooting. I’ve already mentioned that they finished with a season-low four made threes. However, they missed all eight of their three-point shots in the first half. It marked the first time this season they failed to hit one before intermission.
- Best statistic: This goes to the Sixers’ 55 rebounds. The total was one shy of their season high, set in a loss at Sacramento on Nov. 9.
- Worst of the worst: Mitchell for being the latest opposing player to allow Embiid to get into his head. His “shove” of Embiid basically took away any momentum the thought they had. The Sixers big man raised his arms, and the sold-out crowd of 20,587 chanted “M-V-P” and “Trust the Process.”