After a 0-5 start, the Utah Jazz ended their long six-game road trip on a winning note. While it was not always the most aesthetic of games, Utah breathed a sigh of relief, thanks to its 104-92 victory over the struggling Philadelphia 76ers.
In a battle of two teams many feel are playing for June’s NBA Draft, the Jazz had more in the tank despite playing in the second half of a back-to-back series and dropping five consecutive outings. While it was a victory over a Sixers squad that has now lost 16 straight games, it was a victory nonetheless. And it undoubtedly made for a much more enjoyable flight back to Salt Lake City.
The Jazz enjoyed a well-balanced attack as everyone who played got involved. Five players reached the double-digit mark, while three others had seven or more. Gordon Hayward, whose play has been much more consistent over the past several games, paced Utah with 22 points and eight assists.
The Jazz with now return to the safe confines of EnergySolutions Arena for a three-game homestand.
Brilliant bench: One of the bright spots for much of this season has been Utah’s play off the bench. There have been many instances where the reserves have injected a lot of life and energy into the game. Saturday was one such instance.
Alec Burks has arguably been the most consistent player for the Jazz this year. He is among the NBA’s most improved and is playing with great confidence. Versus Philadelphia, Burks exhibited his athleticism and array of offensive moves, hitting 6-of-10 field goals and making a trio of 3-pointers. He finished with 19 points and two steals off the pine.
Enes Kanter had another solid performance, registering a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Backup point guard Diante Garrett continued his recent success with 11 points, three assists and four rebounds. He too connected on three treys. While Philadelphia’s bench actually outscored Utah’s 45-43, it was the latter whose impact was felt greater.
This and that:
• Former first-round pick Troy Wroten, discarded by the Memphis Grizzlies, is taking advantage of his opportunity in the City of Brotherly Love. He had a career night against Utah, hitting 12-of-15 from the floor while throwing in 30 points. By comparison, he scored 91 total points his rookie campaign.
• Big man Derrick Favors had a terrific outing with 15 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots.
• Neither Rookie of the Year candidates had their most impressive games. Philadelphia’s Michael Carter-Williams could not buy a basket (2-of-13 shooting), but had nine assists, seven rebounds and five steals. Utah’s Trey Burke also shot poorly (2-of-9), but added eight assists with only one turnover and was +12.
• Of the 11 players who saw the court for Philadelphia, only forward Thaddeus Young and Arnett Moultrie were on last year’s roster.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also writes for Salt City Hoops (ESPN's Jazz affiliate). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.