The Philadelphia 76ers (24-17) were in dire straits at the start of the week. Just a few days ago, the Sixers were expected to blow the division lead – but a blowout win over the Boston Celtics on March 7 stopped that, and a win over the decent Utah Jazz could solve those problems for good.
The Sixers didn’t have their way with the Jazz quite like they did with the Celtics. However, this night resembled one of those early wins from January, where Philadelphia pulled away in the second half and breathed easy at the end for a 104-91 victory.
Although the Jazz struggled shooting-wise the entire game, they were only down by two at halftime, 49-47. In fact, they led by as much as 8 early in the game, but streaks of missed shots allowed the Sixers to regain the advantage late in both the first and second quarter.
Yet the Sixers pulled away in the third quarter and cruised from there, as they did so many times in the opening weeks of the season. The gradually made shots that extended their lead, until a 2-point advantage had grown into a 15-point one late in the fourth quarter. And ,as in the old days, a balanced attack featuring plenty of reserves, efficient shooting, and a suffocating defense carried the Sixers.
Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young each scored 21 points off the bench, while Evan Turner continued his revival with 16 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists. 5 Sixers scored in double figures, and they shot an incredible 41-78 (52.6%) from the field.
For Utah, Paul Millsap led the way, scoring 15, grabbing 9 boards, and getting 3 steals. Al Jefferson and Derrick Favors each scored 14, and Butler grad Gordon Hayward added 13 of his own.
The Sixers look back on track, and after dropping 8 of 10, they’re now on a 2-game streak. This win has them 2 games ahead of Boston and 5 1/2 ahead of New York, which means the Sixers now have a nice cushion to work with.
Howver, once again, the Sixers appear to be benefiting from breathers in their schedule, facing an aging Boston team, and up-and-down Jazz team, and next they face a tanking Knicks squad that has fallen back to Earth following ‘Linsanity’. But, after the run they’ve been on, they’ll take any breathers they can get.
Next up, as mentioned before, are the Knicks on Sunday. The Sixers may have not been able to beat the NBA’s elite, but they’ll have chances to do so in the future and they need to stabilize their own situation, which they’ve seemed to do.