PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid was missing shots and upset with his play.
That all changed with a theatrical, crowd-pleasing and game-changing flop.
Ben Simmons had a career-high 27 points and 10 rebounds, a fired-up Embiid added 15 points and 11 rebounds despite a sore knee, and the Philadelphia 76ers beat the cold-shooting Utah Jazz 107-86 on Monday night.
The injury-prone Embiid skipped the morning shootaround because of pain his surgically-repaired left knee. But he posted his seventh double-double and got under Utah’s skin at a decisive time in the fourth quarter.
“The whole game I thought I was kind of flat,” Embiid said. “I was kind of going through the motions. I needed that, getting the crowd going.”
The Jazz had cut a 21-point deficit to 11 and were down 92-79 with 4:13 left when rookie Donovan Mitchell drove the lane and Embiid emphatically swatted away his shot.
After Mitchell fell underneath the basket, Embiid turned and jawed at him. While the 6-foot-3 Mitchell claimed he couldn’t hear what he said, he got up and lightly shoved Embiid.
The 7-foot-2 Embiid crashed to the floor.
“He just got up kind of fake-shouldered and I flopped and he got a technical for it,” Embiid said with a grin.
As Mitchell drew the technical foul, Embiid got up and motioned to the fans, who started to chant “MVP” and “Trust the Process,” the team’s mantra during a lengthy rebuild.
“The young kid in me kind of showed,” Mitchell said. “Inexperience right there in that moment, because I think we were down (13) and we ended up losing by 21.”
Embiid later hit a jumper to make it 95-82. When he exited to a standing ovation with 1:50 left, the Sixers were up 18 and had secured their second win in five games.
“It was all fun after the game. We shook hands,” Embiid said of Mitchell. “It was just about having fun.”
Mitchell scored 17 points on 6 of 19 shooting, Rodney Hood added 13 while making 5 of 17 shots, and the Jazz shot 35.3 percent from the field in losing for the eighth time in 10 games.
After blowing a 22-point halftime lead Saturday against Golden State, Simmons hit 11 of 15 shots after halftime and the Sixers pulled away this time.
J.J. Redick shook off a scoreless first half to finish with 20 points, and Amir Johnson grabbed 13 rebounds.
The Sixers didn’t know they’d have Embiid until about 45 minutes before the game after he successfully tested the knee in warmups.
Embiid sat out a win at Utah two weeks ago for what the Sixers called “load management” as they try to keep him healthy after a number of injuries. He made just 7 of 16 shots, but again proved the team’s emotional leader.
“I like our guys playing with an edge. I like them having some level of swagger and feeling good about themselves,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “That was a big play. It certainly got the crowd involved.”
The Jazz, at the end of a four-game trip, have been struggling as they deal with injuries to four key players. But even without Rudy Gobert, they were coming off a 40-point rout of Orlando on Saturday for their first road win.
The offense remained stuck in Florida early, and Utah couldn’t contain the 6-foot-10 Simmons, who scored on a variety of drives and pull-ups while facing several defenders.
“They were driving us, particularly in the open floor. And we didn’t do a good job of staying in front of them,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “When you get guys like Simmons downhill with his size, they’re going to finish down there.”
Jazz: Alec Burks was 1 of 10 from the field. . Utah hasn’t won consecutive games since Nov. 1.
76ers: G Jerryd Bayless (wrist) had five points in his return from a six-game absence. … The 36 points allowed in the first half were the fewest since Dec. 11, 2016 at Detroit. … The team began selling Australian beef pies at concession stands in a promotion tied to Simmons, an Aussie.
The Jazz face Chicago on Wednesday to begin a three-game homestand.
The 76ers play Portland on Wednesday in the third game of six straight at home.
(Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)