ALL THAT JAZZ AND A LOT OF EMBIID

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - SPORTS - —AP

Gor­don Hay­ward got a cold re­cep­tion in Utah. He was booed every time he touched the ball, and his Bos­ton Celtics left town with a loss.

In Philadel­phia, Joel Embiid re­peat­edly stepped to the free throw line with one thought in mind dur­ing crit­i­cal mo­ments of the Philadel­phia 76ers’ over­time vic­tory against the Char­lotte Hor­nets.

“Got to make them,” Embiid said. “They call me ‘clutch’ for a rea­son, so got to make them.”

Joe In­gles matched his ca­reer high with 27 points and added a sea­son-high seven as­sists to help the Jazz beat the Celtics, 123-115, on Fri­day night in Hay­ward’s re­turn to Salt Lake City.

Embiid, mean­while, was 14 for 16 from the line be­tween the fourth quar­ter and over­time to help ice the 76ers’ 133-132 vic­tory Fri­day night. He had 42 points and 18 re­bounds.

Hay­ward had 13 points and seven as­sists in 25 min­utes dur­ing his first game back in Utah since leav­ing the Jazz as a free agent to sign with the Celtics af­ter the 2016-17 sea­son. He broke his left an­kle in Bos­ton’s opener last sea­son.

The star for­ward spent his first seven NBA sea­sons with the Jazz af­ter they drafted him ninth over­all in 2010. He av­er­aged 15.7 points, 4.2 re­bounds and 3.4 as­sists for Utah, but took the hos­tile re­ac­tion from Jazz fans in stride.

“I kind of ex­pected some of that,” Hay­ward said. “They were boo­ing me from the get-go, so it’s part of the game.”

Bos­ton trimmed a 20-point deficit to four by the fourth quar­ter. Play­ing with­out in­jured Kyrie Irv­ing, the Celtics closed within four on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions late in the pe­riod, the fi­nal time on a 3-pointer from Mar­cus Smart that made it 111107 with 2:19 left.

Rudy Gobert quickly an­swered with a layup that pushed the lead back to six. Jayson Ta­tum fol­lowed by miss­ing back-to-back layups that could have cut the deficit again, and Bos­ton never got closer.

Jae Crow­der fi­nally slammed the door on the come­back with a cor­ner 3 that gave Utah a 117-109 lead with 47.7 sec­onds left.

Utah coach Quin Snyder thought his team turned a cor­ner by hang­ing tough down the stretch against the Celtics.

“Our team has not been able to han­dle suc­cesses dur­ing games at times,” Snyder said. “We’ve lost fo­cus some­times when we’ve hit shots. Teams are go­ing to come back on you, but you can’t make it easy on them.”

The Hor­nets fought back from a 21-point deficit and led by five with 1:18 re­main­ing in reg­u­la­tion be­fore the Six­ers forced ex­tra time. Kemba Walker scored 19 of his 30 points in the fourth quar­ter for the Hor­nets.

Embiid chal­lenged the Hor­nets’ de­fense as they at­tempted a come­back vic­tory and fo­cused on draw­ing con­tact. Hor­nets start­ing cen­ter Cody Zeller fouled out in reg­u­la­tion af­ter com­mit­ting five fouls in the fourth.

“It’s tough keeping him off the free throw line just be­cause he is so phys­i­cal,” Zeller said. “He can shoot it from three, play off the dribble, he’s ob­vi­ously a wide body in the post, so those are the tough­est guys to de­fend that can play kind of play at every spot on the court.”

—USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Six­ers cen­ter Joel Embiid hangs on to the rim af­ter a dunk.

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