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Unstoppable Embiid scores 59 as Jazz fall to 76ers 105-98


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PHILADELPHIA — The final score read Philadelphia 76ers 105, Utah Jazz 98.

That's only because the NBA isn't allowed to put just a player's name in lieu of a team's in the final box score.

Make no mistake, though, the 76ers didn't beat the Jazz on Sunday, Joel Embiid did.

Emiid had a career-high 59 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists and seven blocks.

Read that stat line again. There was some Wilt Chamberlain stuff going on in Philly on Sunday.

He roasted Kelly Olynyk, he was mean to Walker Kessler, and he hit jumpers over Lauri Markkanen. Save for sending all five guys at him, there wasn't anything the Jazz could do to stop Embiid on Sunday.

"When a guy is going like that, it's really tough to kind of shut the water off, especially for the caliber player he is," Mike Conley said.

Embiid was 19-of-28 from the field, and 20-of-24 from the free-throw line. To put his dominance another way: He was two assists, three rebounds and 1 point shy of a 60-point quadruple-double.

It was absurd. It was insane. It was a generational performance from one of the game's best players. The Jazz just so happened to be on the wrong side of it.

The 76ers put Embiid at the free-throw line and let him go to work. He beat defenders with a quick first step, and either got to the rim or drew fouls. He hit midrange jumpers over anyone the Jazz threw at him. He found cutters for easy looks at the rim.

"Looking back, you'd rather have to try to get the ball out of his hands earlier," Conley said, who mentioned that where the 76ers stationed Embiid made it difficult for the Jazz to track where the offense was going to come from.

Utah tried to adjust late by double-teaming Embiid, but those mostly resulted in more fouls and more trips to the free-throw line.

"He did a great job facing up when he sees where the double team is coming from," said Markkanen, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds. "And I think we, a couple times, put our hands in when they were in the bonus. He got to the free-throw line too easy — a couple dumb fouls."

Hardy said he would have liked to see his team fight a little harder to stay in front of Embiid's first step. As well as keep their hands out instead of allowing him to create contact for easy points at the line.

"When you play the fourth quarter of an NBA game in the bonus for the majority of it, defense is very hard — especially against a physical player like that," Hardy said.

But Jazz coach Will Hardy pointed to his own team — not Embiid's career game — as the reason the Jazz fell to 10-5 on Sunday; he specifically mentioned the offensive spacing and decision making down the stretch as things that weren't good enough from his team.

Utah shot 40% from the field and 30% from the 3-point line. Philadelphia recorded 14 blocks as a team, which was a clear sign that things were bottled up down low.

"A lot of our poor defensive play or poor communication stemmed from the fact that our offense was not operating the way it should," Hardy said. "And I felt like our team got frustrated and we were not able to carry over our focus to the defensive end very well. It's a great learning moment for our team, and a lot more games to go."

And, yet, despite an all-time performance and a Jazz offense that was subpar, it was still a one-possession game with 1:20 remaining in the game.

How? Well, mostly due to the time when Embiid wasn't on the court. In the 11 minutes when the Philadelphia center was on the bench, the Jazz outscored the 76ers by 18 points.

But when Embiid was on, he was on.

The Jazz were simply on the wrong end of one of the best players in the NBA having the game of his life.

"He's rolling, he's going; you're trying to stop him and he's smart," said Olynyk, who finished with 14 points and six rebounds. "He's got all the tricks in the book."

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