Jordan Clarkson erupted for 40 points off the bench as the Utah Jazz overpowered the Philadelphia 76ers 134-123 in the NBA’s clash of the conference leaders on Monday.
Clarkson produced a dazzling display of long-range shooting, making eight of 13 attempts from beyond the arc as Utah overturned an early double-digit deficit to score a convincing win at Salt Lake City’s Vivint Arena.
Utah talisman Donovan Mitchell finished with 24 points while Australian veteran Joe Ingles delivered 20.
Sixers star Ben Simmons saw a record-breaking 42-point display — the highest ever tally by an Australian player in an NBA game — end in defeat.
Simmons was in superb shooting form, making 12-of-13 free throws while supplying 12 assists. Team-mate Tobias Harris had 36 points with 10 rebounds.
But the night belonged to Clarkson, whose high-scoring cameo saw the Jazz stretch their lead at the top of the Western Conference to 23-5, and extended the team’s unbeaten streak to eight games.
“It feels good,” Clarkson said. “The biggest thing is we just got another win. We’re trying to keep it going, trying to keep getting better every time we step on the floor. That’s what it’s about at the end of the day.”
Philadelphia, who lead the Eastern Conference at 18-10, got off to a fast start, with Harris’s floating jump shot putting the visitors 14 points clear at 24-10 midway through the first.
Utah gradually chipped away at the lead, however, with Ingles cutting the deficit to just seven points at the end of the first quarter.
The Australian then got Utah to within one with a three-pointer early in the second period to make it 46-45.
Utah finally moved into the lead just before half-time, turning around six points clear at the break.
Another Mitchell three-pointer put Utah 86-74 ahead in the third quarter, and they maintained a 12-point lead heading into the final period with the score at 106-94.
Clarkson brought up his 40-point tally with a three-pointer to put Utah 121-112 ahead before the hosts closed out a decisive win.
Clippers, Nets roll on
In Los Angeles, a depleted Clippers side missing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George proved too strong for the Miami Heat in a 125-118 win at the Staples Center.
Marcus Morris shouldered the scoring burden for the Clippers with 32 points, while Ivica Zubac had 22 off the bench. The Clippers improved to 21-8 to remain firmly on the heels of Utah at the top of the West.
Jimmy Butler (30 points), Bam Adebayo (27) and Tyler Herro (27) led the Miami scoring.
In Sacramento, Kyrie Irving scored 40 points as Brooklyn extended their winning run to three games in a 136-125 win over the Kings.
It was a second straight road victory for the Nets, who had beaten Golden State in their last outing on Saturday.
James Harden added 29 points for Brooklyn, who improved to 17-12 and remain third in the Eastern Conference.
In San Francisco, Steph Curry’s sparkling form for Golden State continued with 36 points, two rebounds and six assists in a 129-98 blowout for the Warriors over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Elsewhere Monday, John Wall made a high-scoring return to former club Washington but finished on the losing side as the Wizards defeated the Houston Rockets 131-119.
Wall, who was traded by the Wizards in December as part of the deal that sent Russell Westbrook in the opposite direction, finished with 29 points and 11 assists.
But Wall was outgunned by former team-mate Bradley Beal, who poured in 37 points while Westbrook added a triple double of 16 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists for the visitors.