Chris Paul scored 28 points, Devin Booker had 19 and Mikal Bridges 18 to lead the Phoenix Suns to a 116-113 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.
Joel Embiid, who had 38 points and 17 rebounds, heaved a full-court shot at the horn that rattled around the rim and put the All-Star center on his back in disbelief over the near-make.
No matter, the Suns walked off winners on the road for the second time this week against one of the top teams in the East.
Paul hit five 3s and Bridges, a former Villanova standout, continued to haunt the Sixers three years after an ill-fated draft-night deal. The Sixers selected Bridges with the 10th overall pick in 2018 — a feel-good story because of the Nova connection and his mother worked for the 76ers’ parent company. Zhaire played only 13 NBA games and is out of the league while Bridges turned into a breakout star for the blossoming Suns.
The Sixers again played without starters Ben Simmons (unspecified illness) and Tobias Harris (right knee). Simmons missed his second straight game and Harris his third, the Sixers certainly secure enough in playoff spot to the point they don’t have to rush either one back. Seth Curry also missed the game with a left hip flexor — three starters down certainly one reason why FanDuel had the Suns as three-point favorite.
The Sixers would certainly like all three back in time for this week’s two-game set in Milwaukee. Shake Milton, Furkan Korkmaz, and Matisse Thybulle joined Embiid and Danny Green (18 points) in the lineup.
Embiid even left in the third when he appeared to slam his left knee on the court and sat behind the basket with a towel around his leg. He rested on his back and stretched his knee as the teams went basket-for-basket. Embiid jogged in place on the baseline and played cheerleader as the short-handed Sixers tried to hang with the Suns. Embiid has missed 18 games this season with injuries that include a bone bruise on his right knee that cost him 11 games after the All-Star break, back tightness and right knee pain.
Paul buried consecutive 3s for an 85-81 lead in Embiid’s absence and the All-Star center did not check back in until a shade over 6 minutes left the game and the Sixers down seven. Embiid buried a 3 in a late-game lineup where he was the only regular starter.
The Suns, coming off an overtime win in Milwaukee, got big baskets down the stretch from Booker — including a nice bank off the glass and he swished a fallaway jumper for the dagger with 13 seconds left in the game.
76ers: Coach Doc Rivers, who stumped for Joe Biden during his campaign President, welcomed the guilty verdict of the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. “The fact that we celebrated a man who committed murder is going to jail, I thought about that last night and I’m not so sure if we’ve come a long way or we have a long way to go,” Rivers said. “You can think of that either way. But the right thing happened, obviously. So I was excited about that. Blacks have been dehumanized for a long time, and to see a man go to jail for killing a Black man should not be significant, but it is. So I guess in that way we’re coming a long way, but we still have a long way to go.” Rivers said he talked to the team about the verdict and felt “it was my responsibility” as coach to discuss current events with his players.
Suns: Count Rivers among the fans of Suns coach, and former 76ers assistant, Monty Williams. “Monty is a terrific coach. When you talk to other coaches and who you have to prepare for, who runs good stuff, Monty’s name always comes up. Now he has the talent,” Rivers said. The Suns will make the playoffs for the first time sine 2010. … Jae Crowder left the game with a sprained right ankle.
Suns: At Boston on Friday night.
76ers: At Milwaukee on Thursday night and Saturday.