I’ve just got to keep my head. It’s a learning experience. He was talking the whole game. —Donovan Mitchell on late-game incident with Joel Embiid
PHILADELPHIA — As Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell blew past T.J. McConnell late in the fourth quarter, a 7-footer was there to deny his driving layup.
“Get that (expletive) outta here,” Sixers center Joel Embiid stood over Mitchell, taunting him after the blocked shot.
Mitchell jumped up to shove a flopping Embiid to the ground as a technical foul was assessed with 4:09 remaining.
More than 20,000 fans began screaming to the top of their lungs as Embiid lifted his arms to stir up the sellout crowd.
Welcome to Philadelphia.
“I’ve just got to keep my head,” Mitchell said. “It’s a learning experience. He was talking the whole game. It’s part of the game and I’ve just got to keep my head, especially in that situation where we’re making a comeback and we’re just giving them energy in their home place to get all riled up.”
After a 40-point win in Orlando Saturday, the Jazz dropped a 107-86 game to the Sixers Monday at the Wells Fargo Center.
Sixers rookie Ben Simmons went off for a career-high 27 points and 10 rebounds as Mitchell led the Jazz with 17 points.
“I thought I was going to have more honestly,” Simmons said, with Jazz center Rudy Gobert sidelined with a right tibia contusion.
After the game, Embiid admitted to flopping after Mitchell’s knee-jerk reaction.
“Obviously, I blocked his shot then I said something to him and then he just up and kind of fake shoved me and I flopped and he got a technical for it,” Embiid described. “It’s all fun after the game, we shook hands and it’s just about having fun.”
The Jazz got an up close and personal experience with the rambunctious Philly fans. Even during the introductions for the game’s starters, the crowd chanted each player’s named, saying they sucked before the tipoff.
They booed Mitchell mercilessly when he split a pair of free throws late in the fourth. With Embiid trolling them, it only added fuel to the fire.
“I think (the crowd) feeds off me and I think I feed off them because when the crowd is into it, as I love getting them going,” said Embiid, after scoring 15 points and adding 11 rebounds and two blocks. “I feel like it helps me elevate my game to another level because I know they’re cheering for me and that means I’ve got to back it up and show them something.”
As Gobert surveyed the action from the sideline, his competitive juices were flowing. He admitted it was tough watching his teammates fall but is staying patient during the recovery process.
“When I’m not there, he knows it’s not the same so he just tries to be aggressive and he’s been doing that to every team,” Gobert said of Embiid. “So he’s very aggressive and that’s what he did tonight.”
While watching the tension unfold between Mitchell and Embiid, Gobert grew a different level of respect for the first-year guard.
“Donovan must be very strong because he fell pretty easy on the floor,” Gobert said, smirking.
Utah (7-11) was held to 35.2 percent shooting on the final stop of a four-game road trip.
Ricky Rubio posted five of his 12 points in the first quarter, Rodney Hood ended with 13 points off the bench and Ekpe Udoh added 10 points and four steals in 21 minutes.
The Jazz will return home to host Chicago at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Coach Quin Snyder refuses to let anything linger in his locker room stemming from the silly on-court beef between Embiid and Mitchell.
“It was such an inconsequential play in my mind,” Snyder said. “You have two guys that are really good players and Joel is one of the really good players in the league and is competing and Donovan reacted, which he’s a competitor, too.
“That was not a big deal to me.”