Chris Paul, Suns Hold off Joel Embiid, 76ers with Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris OutApril 22, 2021
In a matchup between two of the top teams in the NBA, the Phoenix Suns came out on top of the Philadelphia 76ers, 116-113, on Wednesday.
Led by 28 points from Chris Paul, the Suns improved to 42-16 to continue encroaching upon the first-place Utah Jazz.
Philadelphia, which was led by 38 points and 17 rebounds from Joel Embiid, dropped its second game in a row to move to 39-19 and fall into a tie for the top seed in the Eastern Conference with the Brooklyn Nets.
- Chris Paul, Suns: 28 PTS, 8 AST, 3 REB
- Mikal Bridges, Suns: 18 PTS, 4 REB, 2 STL, 2 BLK
- Joel Embiid, 76ers 38 PTS, 17 REB
- Danny Green, 76ers: 18 PTS, 4 REB, 4 AST
Shorthanded 76ers Struggle Again
A battered 76ers lineup couldn't defeat Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors on Monday, and one of their only saving graces was the other Curry. Seth Curry dropped 15 points in the loss and was the team's second-leading scorer behind Joel Embiid in a lineup that was also missing Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris.
But Curry, Simmons and Harris were all out on Wednesday, leaving Embiid as the only player who had any hope of carrying the load against a powerful Suns squad.
Embiid did everything he could in the first half, dropping 18 points while no other Philadelphia scorer managed double-digits, and he also added 12 rebounds in the process. It was enough to keep Philadelphia in it, with the game heading into the break at a 54-54 tie.
The Suns took control for much of the third quarter, and when Embiid went down, the city of Philadelphia began to hold its breath.
But the team, which had also lost Furkan Korkmaz earlier in the night after a fall, kept it going and entered the fourth with a one-point deficit.
Rich Hofmann @rich_hofmann
That was a tough quarter on the injury front for the Sixers: Korkmaz rolls his ankle, Embiid looked like he banged his knee. Tough sledding on offense with minimal spacing and missed FTs. The bright spot: Thybulle put together some ridiculous defensive possessions on Booker.
Danny Green came alive in the third, shaping up into the team's second-leading scorer with 14 total points at that point, playing an increased role up front in those few minutes that Embiid went down.
The big eventually made it back in for the fourth.
With the shorthanded 76ers getting even more whittled down as the game went on, the team committed 16 turnovers resulting in 24 points by the end of the night.
The offense would have needed to be on point for Philadelphia to get past another top team without some of its more productive scorers, and they just couldn't count on one player alone—even if it was Embiid's 38 points—to carry them out of it.
Suns Overcome Booker's Quiet Start
The Phoenix Suns entered Wednesday on with three wins in their last four games, but their sharpshooter, Devin Booker has been having a tough go of it over that span.
After dropping at least 16 points in every game dating back to Jan. 20, Booker has fallen under that mark in two of those four games. While he entered Wednesday off of a 24-point outing against the Bucks, he tallied just 15 against the San Antonio Spurs and 12 against the Miami Heat, bookending a 23-point appearance against the Sacramento Kings.
While slumps can be shrugged off throughout the season, a quiet night for Booker against Philadelphia would be downright strange. Through 11 career games against the 76ers, Booker had averaged 29.7 points, 4.5 assists and 4.4 rebounds.
In the first half, he was nowhere close to hitting that average, with just seven points, even though he had a highlight-reel finish on one bucket.
Chris Paul and Mikal Bridges both posted 10 points to keep the Suns in it.
Part of Booker's trouble was the defensive strength of Matisse Thybulle, who had a pair of blocks and two steals by the close of the third quarter to help quiet the Suns' star. With Booker pushed out of line yet again, it was Paul and Bridges who were looked to in Phoenix's quest to keep Philadelphia at bay.
Booker ended the night with 19 points (with a late surge in the final seconds of play to bring up his tally) but the success of the roster's other stars as well as a big day from Cameron Johnson off the bench (15 points) pushed the Suns to the win.
Philadelphia will face another tough test in a pair of games against the Milwaukee Bucks, with the first one set for a 7 p.m. ET tip on Thursday.
The Suns will play another playoff-caliber team in the Boston Celtics on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET.