After a long road trip ended with a loss to the New York Knicks, the Utah Jazz were finally back in the friendly confines of the Delta Center on Thursday night, and looked like they caught a break (again) with the visiting Philadelphia 76ers missing their star center Joel Embiid once more due to injury.
The game started well for the Jazz, who raced out to a 7-0 lead, but then Tyrese Maxey, fresh off being named an All-Star reserve earlier in the evening, decided to take over.
Maxey scored 18 first-quarter points, going around, shooting over, and dominating the Jazz guards to lead the Sixers to a 39-32 advantage after the first quarter ended.
He wasn't done. In the 2nd quarter, Maxey scored another 14 points to reach 32 by halftime and put the visitors up 71-61.
In the 3rd, the Jazz stepped up and made a game of it, with Collin Sexton scoring 8 points and John Collins 7, and the Jazz knotted the game up at 93-all.
The 4th quarter was back and forth, with Lauri Markkanen of the Jazz pouring in 14 points to keep things close. The score was tied at 117 at the 3-minute mark, and then Collin Sexton drained a 3 to put the Jazz ahead and force a Philadelphia timeout.
Ultimately, Tyrese Maxey refused to lose tonight. He hit a ridiculous 33-foot shot from the parking lot to tie the game at 120 with 1:40 remaining, and after several misses from both teams, Patrick Beverley hit a 3 to give the Sixers the lead back, 123-120 with 40 seconds remaining.
Collin Sexton was fouled on the next possession and hit both free throws to draw the Jazz within 1 (123-122) and then the Jazz blocked a dunk attempt by the Sixers, got whistled for a foul, challenged, and won. Leading to a jump ball, which the Sixers controlled and the Jazz fouled Tobias Harris, who made both free throws.
Jordan Clarkson was fouled on the next trip down for the Jazz and made both to bring the Jazz back to 1 point behind, with 5 seconds left. The Jazz fouled Maxey on the next possession (4 times!) before the whistle blew, and he made both for the final margin, 127-124 for the Sixers.
A tough game to lose for the Jazz, one they should have won. But Tyrese Maxey was simply dominant and would not be denied tonight, finishing with 51 points.
Lauri Markkanen led the Jazz with 28 points, and Collin Sexton had 22 points and 6 assists. The Jazz bench came up big, with 49 points on the night.
The Jazz lost their 3rd straight game and fell to 24-26, still in play-in position at 10th in the West. They are off for a few days before facing the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, at the Delta Center. The Bucks are coming off a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers and sit at 32-16 on the season. Let's hope they can regroup and get back on track soon.