PHILADELPHIA — There are certain must-do things for visitors in the City of Brotherly Love.
You can’t come to this Pennsylvania town without checking out the Liberty Bell in its cracked splendor.
It’s mandatory for tourists to run up the stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and pretend to be Rocky Balboa. Feel free to swallow some egg yolks and scream “Adrian!” while you’re doing it.
And it’s necessary to swing out to South Philly for cheesesteaks “wit Wiz” at rival restaurants Pat’s and Geno’s.
Beating the 76ers can be added to that list.
The Utah Jazz might have to return to Philadelphia on their own to do the first three touristy things, but they accomplished the latter — in exciting fashion even.
Thanks to a late surge, the Jazz snapped their five-game losing streak and ended their otherwise miserable 10-day road trip with a spirit-lifting 104-92 win over the Sixers at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night.
“We didn’t want to lose the other five games, but tonight was different because they‘d lost 15 in a row. If we would’ve (lost) it would be really bad,” Jazz center Enes Kanter said. “But I think we played Jazz basketball tonight. I think we played together.”
“I feel good,” added Jazz big man Derrick Favors, who verbalized his frustrations after Friday’s 108-81 loss in New York. “We came out with a better performance and played with a lot of energy and came out with the win.”
Of course they did.
Beating the 76ers is just what NBA teams do, even in Philly where the home team has lost 13 straight games on its own court. The toast of the Great 2014 Tankoff has now dropped 16 consecutive contests overall to fall to 15-47.
“When you lose that many in a row, you want to win bad, and we definitely felt like that was the game,” Sixers guard Tony Wroten said after his career-high 30-point night. “We were that close in the game. It went down to the wire and we let one slip away.”
The Jazz made sure Philly’s slippery-as-soap W slipped away in the final minutes, and it was the young group that made that happen.
Tied at 91, backup guard Alec Burks hit a corner 3 in font of the Jazz bench to give the visitors the lead for good at the 2:35 mark.
With the Foundation Five on the floor — Burks, Trey Burke, Gordon Hayward, Favors and Kanter — the Jazz finished off Philly by taking a game-ending 13-1 run and a much-needed win back to Utah.
Relief after losing by a combined 89 points on this road trip, which included extra-rough losses in Cleveland, Milwaukee and New York?
“Absolutely. It’s a win, man,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “The young guys got a chance to finish a game that was a close ballgame. All the minutes and all the possessions meant something, and it’s good for them to go through it. I thought they responded fairly well.”
Hayward, whose personal play elevated during the road trip, led the Jazz with 22 points and eight assists.
The Jazz’s young bigs both racked up double-doubles, with Favors contributing 15 points and 14 rebounds after his recent struggles and Kanter tallying 13 points and 10 boards.
Burks again made some dazzling moves around the basket but also hit 3 of 5 3-pointers en route to 19 points.
Burke’s shooting woes continued (2 for 9), but the Jazz player held his own in a rookie point guard battle with Michael Carter-Williams. Burke had seven points, eight assists and a victory, while the Sixers’ 6-6 playmaker dished out nine assists, grabbed seven rebounds and scored four points on 2-of-13 shooting.
“I think we just fought. We didn’t have the prettiest game. We didn’t play our best basketball this whole road trip, and it showed,” Burke said. “But tonight I think we persevered through the storm. They went on their run, but we still found a way to pull it out.”
As you’d expect from teams that entered this on a combined 20-game losing streak, this wasn’t NBA hoops at its best. Utah made 20 turnovers and Philly had 19. The Jazz lost an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter, but then the Sixers melted down the stretch by scoring one point in the final 2:51.
All the Jazz care about is that they won their first game in a week and a half, their first road game in a month since the 96-79 drubbing of the Lakers at Staples Center on Feb. 11 and improved to 22-41.
“We made some mistakes,” Burks said, “but we’ve just got to keep fighting on this road trip, and that’s what we did tonight.”
That made for a more enjoyable flight home, no doubt.
“I can’t wait,” Kanter said, “to get back to Salt Lake.”
Considering how things are going, maybe they should've stayed in Philadelphia.
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