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Sixers beat Jazz in Jimmy Butler’s 28-point home debut

Jimmy Butler scored eight points in the fourth quarter to lead the Sixers down the stretch over the Jazz. He finished with 28 points in his home debut.

Sixers star Jimmy Butler had 28 points in his first game at the Wells Fargo Center.
Sixers star Jimmy Butler had 28 points in his first game at the Wells Fargo Center.Read moreELIZABETH ROBERTSON / staff photographer

Jimmy Butler received a Philly welcome and delivered.

At the conclusion of warmups,  Meek Mill's "Dreams and Nightmares" blared in the Wells Fargo Center.  Then former Sixer great and Hall of Famer Allen Iverson did the pregame ceremonial bell ringing. And 1 minute, 30 seconds into the matchup, the sellout crowd of 20,485 was chanting "Jimmy Butler! … Jimmy Butler!"

He delivered, finishing with 28 points, seven assists, three rebounds and two steals in the Sixers' 113-107 victory over the Utah Jazz.  Eight of his points came in the fourth quarter. Not bad for a home debut, after debuting as a Sixer in Wednesday night's loss in Orlando.

"You could for sure hear them," Butler said of the chants. "One, y'all have — or we — have some great fans. It's definitely an advantage. And y'all have probably have one of the catchiest things in that whole one, two, three, four, five, Sixers deal. Yeah, I'm hyped.

"When I was the away team, I was always singing it. So it's still stuck in my head."

Joel Embiid added 23 points, seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals in just 26:14 due to foul trouble. Embiid played with a swollen right hand after injuring it early in the game.  He said he'll play in Saturday's game at the Charlotte Hornets. He's played with a hand injury since hurting it on Dec. 31 of last season against the Phoenix Suns.

Ben Simmons had 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Sixers (10-7). Donovan Mitchell, who finished runner-up to Simmons in last year's Rookie-of-the-Year voting, had a game-high 31 points on 35 shots for the Jazz (7-8).

Thirteen of Butler's points on Friday came in the first half on 6-for-7 shooting. He made his first four on a driving layup, a three-pointer, a running layup, and a pull-up jumper.  After missing a pull-up jumper, Butler scored on a driving layup and finished off an alley-oop pass with a dunk on a side out-of-bounds play. A small portion from The Boogie Down Productions hit song "Jimmy" played after the dunk.

"He knows how to play the game at a high level," Simmons said. "His IQ is very high. He's the kind of guy where the inbound play, where I threw it to him, that was going to happen before I threw it. Some guys you look at it and know it's really going to happen."

The play Simmons referenced led to Butler scoring a reverse layup to give the Sixers a 111-106 cushion with 19 seconds left.

Butler said the play resulted from making eye contact with Simmons.

"I tell him before each game, I think I'm a wide receiver," he said. "So if you throw the ball up in the air, I'll probably Antonio Brown it; expect I won't take off running with the ball because that's a travel.

"But I'll definitely catch it. He gave me one of those, and put the ball in."

The four-time all-star had been the league's leading fourth-quarter scorer heading into the trade. But he dropped to third (8.1 points per game) on Thursday due to not scoring in the fourth quarter on Wednesday night. The Sixers hoped he would display his fourth-quarter dominance on Friday. He delivered, making three of four shots and compiling two assists to lead the Sixers to the win. In all, Butler missed just three of 15 shots.

This was a big difference from the game in Orlando, where Butler basically deferred to teammates while trying to fit in.

"I came out gunning, I can tell you that," Butler said of the difference.

That's because the Sixers told the swingman to be him. Coach Brett Brown called him Thursday night to say, "Hey, I remember one time you were in this building and you scored 50."  Brown then said, "Do that."

"Then when we got in the little walk-through this morning, he was like, 'You remember what I told you?'" Butler said. "I go, 'Yep.' 'Do that.' And I was like, 'OK.'  So I came out a little more aggressive."

The Sixers, meanwhile, still did what they are accustomed to doing: losing a big lead.

They had a commanding 16-point lead (40-24) in the second quarter. However, they were clinging to a 54-52 advantage at intermission.

Embiid left the game after picking up his fourth foul early in the third quarter and didn't return until the start of the fourth.

The Jazz pulled within 77-76 on Alec Burks' three-point play with 3:24 left in the third quarter. Utah took an 81-80 lead on Mitchell's fadeaway jumper over Butler with 2:02 remaining in the quarter. The Jazz extended their lead to three points.

But the Sixers took an 86-84 lead with 1.5 seconds left in the quarter thanks to a three-point play by Butler.  The Jazz went on to take a 95-90 lead after Rudy Gobert's dunk with 8:05 left in the game.

But Butler went on to spark an 8-0 Sixers run.

He split a pair of foul shots at the 7:25 mark. Embiid blocked Rudy Gobert's shot on the ensuing possession. Butler grabbed the rebound and went on to drain a three at the other end, closing the gap to 95-94.

Then, Embiid scored on a 5-foot hook shot before Butler's dunk gave the Sixers a 98-95 lead with 5:26 to play.

Mitchell responded by scoring the game's next six points — on a 14-foot stepback jumper, a 26-foot three, and foul shot — to put the Jazz up, 101-98.  The Sixers went on to tie the score three times before Simmons scored and was fouled by Mitchell with 58 seconds left to put his team up, 109-107. Simmons  missed the foul shot, but Joe Ingles' airball three-pointer landed out of bounds on the ensuing possession.

Butler's reverse layup not only pushed the Sixers' lead to four points (111-107) with 19 seconds left, it also brought Iverson out of his courtside seat. Then, Butler drew an offensive foul on Gobert on the ensuing possession.

Embiid added a pair of foul shots to clinch the win.


In addition to Iverson,  NBA commissioner Adam Silver, former Eagle and Hall of Fame wideout Cris Carter attended the game Eagles defensive backs Malcolm Jenkins and Jalen Mills attended the game. … Markelle Fultz displayed a new free-throw form as a way to eliminate his hitch.  He patted the ball back and forth from the right hand to the left hand on the way up to shoot. He split four foul shots en route to finishing with six points.