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PHILADELPHIA — Utah Jazz coach Will Hardy said one stat stuck out most from his team's 105-98 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday.
It wasn't Joel Embiid's 59 points or his 24 free throws — or Utah's 17 turnovers — it was how many times the Jazz had their shots blocked. Philadelphia recorded 14 blocks on Sunday, including five in the fourth quarter.
"That's a lot of poor spacing and poor decision making," Hardy said.
That, he said, was the reason why the Jazz lost on Sunday.
Collin Sexton was quick to admit one of the miscues. With 1:20 left in the game and the Jazz trailing by 3 points, Sexton led a fast break and had a couple options: drive all the way to the rim and challenge Embiid or kick it out to a wide-open Jordan Clarkson in the corner.
Sexton had found success attacking the rim, and even beat Embiid twice earlier in the quarter, so he tried it again. It wasn't the best decision.
Sexton chose to go right at a top defender in the league who was having an otherworldly game, and the result was predictable. Embiid already had six blocks on the night when Sexton attacked; the play finished with his seventh.
Embiid blocked the shot at the rim and the Jazz never got the ball back down a single possession again.
"I was watching (Embiid) the whole time, and I missed JC in the corner," Sexton said of the drive. "I was just looking at (Embiid) and he slowed down a little bit to time me. Once he did, he got me. … I've just got to make better decisions down the stretch."
Sexton wasn't alone.
The Jazz have been one of the surprising teams of the season due to how they've been able to connect on offense. The ball has swung from side to side, and drivers have kicked it out to open shooters; it's been a thing of beauty. That beauty didn't appear late on Sunday.
The Jazz forced passes into traffic and had times when multiple players cut to the same spot; that doesn't lead to good offense.
Utah was confused in ways that they hadn't really shown this season. Add in Embiid's career night and it was a frustrating night for the Jazz.
"I thought that this game was not representative of how we want to play," Hardy said. "I thought we started the game great — we controlled the tempo, our spacing was very good, our execution was good. And as the game went on, that did not continue; and that put us in a tough spot against a good team and a very good player down the stretch."
Conley said the Jazz forced their way into the paint instead of letting the play dictate where they should be.
"When that happens, we get stuck and we kind of shoot tough shots or it makes shots get blocked or stuff like that," he said. "We made it a lot tougher than we probably should have."
Some nights it comes down to one team making a shot and another missing. Hardy didn't believe that was the case Sunday in Philadelphia. Utah just wasn't good enough offensively to generate the looks needed.
"We gotta just keep playing the way we've been playing and have been successful," Lauri Markkanen said. "Moving the ball and having multiple cuts and just play that way. The ball movement wasn't the same as it's been before."
Therefore, neither was the result.