They’re a very talented team, but I don’t think that was the reason why they beat us. I just think that we missed shots and they made shots. We didn’t really make them play half court. – Jazz center Al Jefferson
PHILADELPHIA — Well, it was fun for the Utah Jazz while it lasted.
After consecutive road wins, the Jazz found life away from home to be tough again Friday in a 104-91 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center.
Philly got huge boosts off the bench from Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young, who each had 21 points to help snap the Jazz's two-game winning streak.
The loss dropped Utah's record to 19-20 — 5-13 away from the Beehive State — and melted momentum the team could have used tonight in Chicago, where the Jazz's five-game road trip concludes.
"It's a game that we've got to win. We've go to go in and play to win," Jazz center Al Jefferson said. "We know they're a great team, one of the top teams in the NBA. We've just got to go in there and play like we want this game."
Improving their aim would be a bonus.
As the Sixers shot a sizzling 52.6 percent, Utah struggled to find an offensive groove against one of the NBA's top defensive units, shooting just 40.5 percent while falling to 19-20.
"They were just physical. They got their hands on us," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "They took us out of our rhythm a little bit."
The Jazz had five players in double figures, led by Paul Millsap's 15 points and nine rebounds, but only three Utah guys hit at least half of their shots while the team missed 50 field goals against the tough and athletic Sixers.
"Defensively, they had a good game plan. They played well," Jazz guard Raja Bell said. "They were swarming. They were physical. They had hands on us. They had hands in the passing lanes. They were all over the place."
Jefferson didn't have near the impact in this one as he did in wins at Cleveland and Charlotte, where he topped the team in scoring, rebounding and assists.
Jefferson, who had gone off for a combined 56 points in the previous two outings, struggled against Tony Battie, Elton Brand & Co., who were able to keep more pressure on him due to Utah's reliance on and ineptitude from outside on this night.
Big Al ended with 14 points, six rebounds and just one assist against the Atlantic Division-leading Sixers (24-17).
"They're a very talented team, but I don't think that was the reason why they beat us," Jefferson said. "I just think that we missed shots and they made shots. We didn't really make them play half court."
Jefferson and C.J. Miles each missed eight shots, Josh Howard went 0-for-6, and Millsap and Earl Watson were off target five times.
After a good first quarter during which the Jazz went ahead by eight, Utah couldn't mount much of an offensive attack, especially inside. Philly coach Doug Collins pointed out that the visitors scored 34 interior points in the first half (when Utah only trailed by two). The Sixers then collapsed on the Jazz in the final two quarters, holding them to only 18 points in the paint (and 44 points overall).
"That," Collins said, "was the entire game for us."
"They was protecting the paint pretty good," Jefferson admitted.
But Jefferson — and Millsap, for that matter — blamed the Jazz's shooting woes on their own off-night rather than giving Philadelphia full credit.
"That's the same thing Charlotte was doing, same thing Cleveland was doing. Only difference is we were making shots," Jefferson said, regarding Philly paying extra attention to Utah's interior offense.
"Nobody made shots tonight from 1 through 5, even the bench. Nobody was making no shots. Nights like that happen. It could have been against some kids at the park. If you ain't making shots, you ain't making shots, and I think that was the case tonight."
On the other end, the Jazz couldn't find an answer for all of the offensive weapons Philly threw at them.
The game turned around in the first quarter when Philly's stellar subs — Williams and Young, not the cheesesteak variety — entered the game. And the versatile Evan Turner (16 points, 12 rebounds, six assists) and quick Jrue Holiday (16 points) also did damage.
"It's super tough to play a team that's got guys that can score all over the court like they have," Bell said. "Every one of their guys puts it on the floor big, and they're really versatile so it puts you in a bind defensively."