A blockbuster clash between the best teams from the NBA’s Eastern and Western Conferences delivered in spades as the Philadelphia 76ers pipped the Utah Jazz 131-123 in an overtime thriller.
In what was billed as a showdown between Ben Simmons and the player he beat for 2018 Rookie of the Year honours, Donovan Mitchell, it was Simmons’ teammate Joel Embiid who stole the show with a dominant 40-point performance that reinforced his strong case for MVP this season.
He sent the tie into overtime with an incredible three-pointer over Bojan Bogdanovic with seven seconds remaining, before fellow All-Star Mitchell was ejected in OT after a second technical foul.
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In a tirade at the refereeing after the game, Mitchell said: “It’s tough to go out there, to see how we fight and compete. To have a game like that taken from us – and I’m never ever one to blame a ref, to blame an official – and we could have done more – but this is getting out of hand.
“The fact that we just continually get screwed in a way by this. We won this game, in my personal opinion … It’s a consistent thing,” he claimed.
“It’s getting f***ing ridiculous. I’m sick of it. We all are. This is something that eats me.”
He continued, saying: “It’s really getting out of hand. The league needs to do something about this.”
When the pair first met this season, Simmons scored a career-high 42 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds, including 15 made field goals (another career high) despite a 134-123 loss.
And while he didn’t reach those lofty heights again, the Aussie still managed 17 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds in today’s OT win.
More important was his defensive effort, restricting Mitchell to just 12-of-34 shooting for his 33 points, to go with 8 rebounds and 6 assists.
Embiid, who matched up with two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, finished with an incredible 40 points, 19 rebounds and 3 assists from 40 minutes.
Tobias Harris had 22 points and 10 rebounds in another double-double.
The Jazz got off to a hot start, leading by eight points after scoring 34 in the first quarter.
As they have all season, the Utah franchise drained three-pointers with abandon, finishing with 21 from 44 attempts compared to Philadelphia’s 8 from 25.
An 8-3 76ers run at the start of the fourth quarter sent things down to the wire before Embiid nailed the clutch equaliser over Bojan Bogdanovic.
With Philadelphia leading 128-123 in overtime, Donovan Mitchell was ejected for his second technical foul in a moment of madness. The 76ers outscored the Jazz 13-5 in the additional period to secure the victory.
Aussie Joe Ingles scored 16 points for the Jazz on 6 of 7 shooting, with four of five from deep, plus six rebounds, an assist and a steal.
It’s an impressive turnaround for Ingles, after making 0-3 shots in 22 minutes just two days ago against the Pelicans.
SEVEN positive COVID-19 tests in last week
Seven NBA players have tested positive for COVID-19 among the 456 players tested by the league in the past week, the NBA announced Wednesday.
The league does not identify players results, but any player who tests positive is isolated or quarantined until they are cleared under NBA health and safety guidelines.
Protocols also require those identified as having been in close contact to an infected person to quarantine.
The most recent outbreak issue came when the NBA postponed Toronto’s scheduled home game at Tampa, Florida, on Sunday against the Chicago Bulls because the Raptors would not have the minimum eight players available for the contest.
Another Raptors contest in Tampa, planned for Tuesday against Detroit, was delayed to Wednesday pending test results.
The Raptors listed five players out on Wednesday evening due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols — Psacal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby, Malachi Flynn and Patrick McCaw.
Others listed as out on the COVID-19 list include Spanish centre Marc Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers, New York’s Derrick Rose and Sacramento’s Jabari Parker and Hassan Whiteside.
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