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Utah stands head and shoulders over Sixers, handing them their fifth straight loss

A lack of size, length, and shooting contributed to Tuesday’s 120-85 loss at Vivint Arena.

Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey (0) drives as Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley, left, defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey (0) drives as Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley, left, defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)Read moreRick Bowmer / AP

SALT LAKE CITY — The thought was lack of height, length, and standout defenders would be the 76ers’ Achilles heel against the Utah Jazz.

After all, the Sixers were without 7-foot-2 center Joel Embiid, 6-10 point guard Ben Simmons, 6-6 swingman Danny Green, and 6-5 reserve guard Matisse Thybulle, who has a 6-11 wingspan. While those four players’ length and defense were missed, poor shooting also contributed to Tuesday’s 120-85 loss at the Vivint Arena.

The Sixers (8-7) shot 36.7%, including making just 6-of-29 three-pointers en route to extending their losing streak to five games. This was the first time this season they failed make at least 10 three-pointers. This marks their longest skid since losing five straight from Dec. 15-23, 2017.

“We missed a lot of wide-open shots,” coach Doc Rivers said. “But I don’t ever worry about that. ... There’s no coach in America, at least in the NBA, that worries about missed wide-open shots if it’s by the right guys.

“Furk [Furkan Korkmaz] had wide-open shots. Seth [Curry] had wide-open shots. Isaiah [Joe] had them. Shake [Milton] had a ton of them tonight.”

Tobias Harris also had a couple. The Sixers will show the players the shots they missed while during film study and encourage them to keep taking them.

Rivers doesn’t know if anything contributed from the wide-open misses.

» READ MORE: Best and worst from Sixers-Jazz: No answer for Bojan Bodgonavic, dismal shooting, and more from blowout loss

“We just didn’t make them tonight,” he said. “You have nights like that. I like that we got them. I don’t like when we miss them, but that’s all that we can do.”

The Sixers made only 20-of-52 attempts in the first half, including shooting 23.5% from three. That led to the Jazz (9-5) taking a 16-point lead into the break.

Things didn’t get much better for the Sixers after intermission with the Jazz extending their lead to 31 points. Now, Utah did shoot the ball well, making 51.7%. But the Sixers didn’t help themselves by missing a lot of shots.

“It was just one of the games where you just couldn’t buy a bucket,” Joe said. “But we let that get our heads down. We just have to go into the next game with major confidence.”

Utah forward Bojan Bogdanovic finished with a game-high 27 points. Milton paced the Sixers with 18.

Not a good night for Sixers sharpshooting tandem

For the Sixers to win, sharpshooters like Curry and Korkmaz would have to knock down shots.

Well, that didn’t have happen.

Curry made just 1-of-8 shots to finish with five points. The shooting guard missed all seven of his first-half attempts. He didn’t score his first basket until a corner three with 4 minutes, 6 seconds left in the third quarter in last shot attempt.

Curry, Harris, Maxey, and Andre Drummond sat out the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, Korkmaz had six points on 2-for-12 shooting. He had two forgettable plays. Korkmaz airballed a three-point in the second quarter. Then his third-quarter reverse layup attempt hit the bottom of the backboard.

This was Korkmaz’s fourth straight poor-shooting performance. He shot a combined 8-for-37 (21.6%) in the previous three games.

» READ MORE: If the right offer doesn’t come, could Ben Simmons still be on this roster at playoff time? | Sixers Mailbag

Niang’s homecoming

This marked Georges Niangs first game back in Salt Lake City against his former team since signing a multiyear deal with the Sixers on Aug. 6.

Niang, who played in Utah for the past four seasons, was greeted by well-wishers in the hallway while arriving to the arena. A fan seated by the Sixers bench wore a Niang No. 20 Sixers jersey. Then he received a loud ovation while getting into the game with 4:29 left in the first quarter. And the Jazz did a video tribute for him following a Utah timeout with 2:47 remaining in the quarter.

The sixth-year veteran made his first attempt, a three-pointer, shortly after initially checking into the game. He finished with seven points.

Tough time against Gobert

You kind of knew without Embiid, the Sixers would have a tough time against Utah center Rudy Gobert.

The 7-2, 258-pounder showed why he’s a three-time defensive player of the year, four-time All-NBA selection, and five-time All-Defensive performer.

Gobert finished with 15 points to go with game-highs of 17 rebounds and four blocks in just 28:08 of action.

He got the best of Drummond and every other center the Sixers inserted to face him. Drummond had six points and six rebounds while playing just 12:08.

Thybulle and Embiid updates

Coach Doc Rivers didn’t have an update on possible returns for Embiid and Thybulle from the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Both vaccinated players have tested positive for the coronavirus.

“With Matisse, it’s just trying to get the right date with the league,” Rivers said. “It’s a lot of clutter going on. I’ll leave it at that. With Joel, the same thing, just trying to get better. You have to have the two negative tests.”

Embiid probably won’t join the Sixers on this six-game road trip that concludes Nov. 24 at Golden State. Thybulle will probably join the team on the West Coast.

Thybulle was put in protocols on Nov. 5. It was originially for contact tracing before he tested positive while in quarantine. Tuesday marked the sixth game he’s missed. Embiid tested positive on Nov. 8, and has missed five games.

A vaccinated player can typically return after a 10-day quarantine or following two negative tests 24 hours apart. Based on a 10-day quarantine, the earliest Embiid would be able to return would be Thursday’s game at Denver. However, he’s been symptomatic, which has caused him to stay out longer.

Simmons, meanwhile, has yet to play after requesting a trade this summer and telling the team he’s mentally not ready to play.