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Utah Jazz drop game to Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers as Jimmy Butler debuts

PHILADELPHIA — The sellout crowd in Wells Fargo Center was buzzing with the Utah Jazz in town Friday for Jimmy Butler's home debut as a Philadelphia 76er.

Boos showered the building as Jazz players were introduced — notably Donovan Mitchell after last year's rookie beef with Ben Simmons.

Even Sixers legend Allen Iverson rang the Liberty Bell ahead of the tipoff, then cheered from his court-side seat as Philadelphia handed Utah its second consecutive loss, 113-107.

Butler went off for 28 points, seven assists and two steals on 12-for-15 shooting, including a clutch layup off an inbounds pass from Simmons with 19.4 seconds remaining. As the Player of the Game, he launched an autographed game ball into the stands after the victory with "I love Philly" scribbled on it.

“We’ve got to be smarter. A lot of mistakes add up and we had some plays that we’ve just got to think more and we can’t have breakdowns, especially against a team that’s as good as them.”

Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder

Fans often chanted his name throughout the night as the Sixers wore their Rocky-inspired Nike City Edition uniforms.

"He knows how to play the game at a high level, his IQ is very high," Simmons said of Butler, who was traded Monday from Minnesota. "He's the kind of guy where, the inbounds play where I threw it to him, that was going to happen before I even threw it, just because I looked at him.

"Some guys you can just look at and you already know what's going to happen before it happens."

Following Wednesday's 50-point loss in Dallas, which was the second worst in franchise history, the Jazz once again started flat, falling behind by as many as 16 points with Butler and Joel Embiid combining for 15 first-quarter points.

Mitchell went 6-for-19 in the first half trying to valiantly carry the offensive load as well as Favors making his first five field goals en route to ending with 13 points and six boards in 24 minutes.

At halftime, the Jazz were within two, 54-52, after outscoring Philadelphia 28-16 in the second quarter, despite the slow start on the third stop of a five-game road trip.

"We competed. I feel like we do that," said Jazz coach Quin Snyder. "We've got to be smarter. A lot of mistakes add up and we had some plays that we've just got to think more and we can't have breakdowns, especially against a team that's as good as them."

Mitchell would end 13 for 35 on the night with a game-high 31 points, including 13 points in the fourth quarter, but wasn't pleased with his individual performance. He also missed all but one of his 11 3-point attempts.

"I took 35 shots, that can't happen. Zero assists," Mitchell said. "It's not who I am, it's not how I play, I'm still being aggressive, but I've got to take smarter looks, especially in the first half. In the fourth, I had it going a little bit, but I had zero assists. That can't happen."

Utah jumped to its first 89-88 lead of the second half after a driving floating shot by Mitchell at 9:57 in the fourth, which prompted an 11-4 run and five-point edge after an alley oop slam from Rudy Gobert off a Dante Exum assist at 8:35.

However, Philly sealed the contest with an 8-2 run in the last two minutes, highlighted by the late Butler layup, which brought Iverson to his feet. Mental mistakes and miscues also cost the Jazz the game down the stretch.

Embiid scored 13 of his 23 points and seven rebounds in the fourth, while Simmons flirted with a triple double with 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

"Communication on defense," Gobert said of the last two minutes. "Sometimes we fouled when we didn't have to. We bailed them out with the possession … execution, just making the right way, moving the ball, just play the way we play, the way we got up."

Joe Ingles was Utah's second highest scorer with 14 points and two assists. Ingles also moved into fifth place on the Jazz's all-time 3-pointers made list (519) in the third quarter, passing Mehmet Okur. Gobert posted 12 points and 10 rebounds with five fouls.

Utah (7-8) will travel to TD Garden next to face the Boston Celtics on the second night of a back-to-back Saturday. Players are already trying to put this game behind them.

"I think we played a good game overall. We just have to execute better down the stretch on both ends," Gobert said. "Obviously, that's a very good team, but we felt like it's some things that we could've done better in the last two minutes."