Suns top 76ers in star-laden matchup

Devin Booker and the Suns over Joel Embiid’s Sixers in Philadelphia


Michael Tipton (Flickr)

The Suns open the playoffs on Sunday against the Clippers.

The Phoenix Suns beat the Philadelphia 76ers 114-109 on Wednesday night behind Devin Booker’s fourth 30-point game in the team’s last five. 76ers All-Star Joel Embiid had a big statistical night of his own, but the Suns’ fourth quarter performance saw them rack up their 44th win in 54 games this season.

“I’m just proud of the toughness and the mental stamina we continue to show,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said after the game.

Phoenix broke the ice first at the Wells Fargo Center, pulling ahead with a 10-4 lead to start the game. Small forward Mikal Bridges scored 10 in the opening quarter, while Booker added another eight points. Embiid also had 10 points in the frame on his way to a team-high 34 with 12 rebounds.

76ers power forward Tobias Harris set the tone in the second quarter. The home team grabbed the lead within three minutes, and the former Los Angeles Clipper scored 13 of his 30 points in the quarter. Harris’s hot second quarter held off the Booker-Deandre Ayton combo, and the Sixers took a 59-55 lead into halftime.

The third quarter saw Philadelphia point guard Tyrese Maxey create most of his team’s offense while the Suns started off slow. The 76er lead eventually swelled to 14 points with 8:49 remaining in the third. 

But Phoenix had a rally in store. Booker scored 11 points as Phoenix clawed back into the game, and the gap entering the fourth quarter was a single point. 

“Staying together man, just not giving up,” Bridges said about the Suns’ comeback effort

Center JaVale McGee provided sturdy minutes early in the fourth as the Suns tried to establish a lead. McGee posted a double-double off the bench, ringing up 15 points and 12 rebounds in only 18 minutes, while the rest of the Phoenix offense went to work in the final frame. Booker, Bridges, and point guard Chris Paul (a game-high 12 assists) provided the clutch offense, while the team defense held Embiid to only one 3-pointer and a step-back mid-range jumper.

Booker ended up closing the game out with free throws as the Suns won their third consecutive road game — the team’s 22-5 mark away from home is the league’s best.

“On a back-to-back, you would think there would be some drop-off, (but he) comes back with 35,” Williams said about Booker. 

An NBA Finals rematch awaits at the Footprint Center on Thursday night, as the Suns return home to host the Milwaukee Bucks.