The Sixers visited the Utah Jazz on the third of a six game road trip. Both teams were going to be without integral parts of their team, Derrick Favors sidelined because of back spasms and Jahlil Okafor missing his second straight due to knee soreness.
Coming off their second win on the season, the 2-30 Sixers tried to keep their winning streak alive since acquiring point guard Ish Smith on a Christmas Eve trade. Smith continued to take this starting point guard situation by storm by recording a double-double, notching 22 points, while dishing out 11 assists.
Playing in his more natural position at center with Okafor sidelined, Noel looks like the player we saw last year with Ish Smith back on the roster. Due in large part to connections on alley-oops between him and Smith, Noel managed 18 points of 8-9 shooting. Noel was a menace on the defensive end, swatting away 5 shots on the night, while altering many other shots in the process. Noel’s stellar defensive play earned him the nickname “The Nerlin Wall,” as given to him by Sixers Color Commentator, Alaa Abdelnaby.
Impressing for the Sixers was also Sixers 2015 second round draft pick, Richaun Holmes, who recorded a rookie career high in points by scoring 18 points on 8-11 shooting. Holmes’ impact was not just on the offensive end, Holmes was also very active on the defensive end, blocking 3 shots on the night.
Ish Smith hit a big three ball to tie the game up at 89 with a little over a minute left to go in the game. The Sixers then jumped back on top when Ish Smith and Noel connected on an alley-oop, but that was followed up with a Gordon Hayward shot from downtown on the other end to go up 1. The Sixers had the ball to win the game at the end with the shot clock unplugged, but Ish Smith missed a floater he tried to bank in and the Sixers fell to the Jazz 95-91. The Sixers were down as many as 21, but managed to make it a very exciting ball game, an effort that has fans extremely proud.
The Sixers (2-31) will face the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night on the TCN Network.