Booker erupts for 46, Suns blister Sixers
PHILADELPHIA — Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker missed nine of his first 10 shots Monday night against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Unfazed, he went on to score a season-high 46 points as the Suns beat the Sixers 115-101.
Booker attributed his turnaround to “shooter’s mentality — keeping the same confidence: never get too high, never get too low.”
He added that he was missing shots early in the game that he felt he should have made, but was not the least bit discouraged.
“Shooters never stop shooting,” Booker said. “I’ve been living by that motto since I was 3 years old.”
Booker, whose career high of 70 points came in Boston in March, finished 17 of 32 from the floor, including 5 of 8 from 3-point range, as Phoenix (9-16) won for just the second time in seven games.
He notched 13 of his points, including three triples, in a clinching 16-3 run late in the game.
“He gets that look,” Suns coach Jay Triano said, “and it doesn’t matter how closely you guard him, it doesn’t matter who guards him — he just finds a way to create space and be electric.”
Certainly the Sixers had no answers.
“You have to guard him is what you have to do, and we didn’t,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said.
TJ Warren added 25 points and Tyler Ulis had 12 points and a season-high 12 assists for the Suns.
J.J. Redick scored 25 points for Philadelphia, which lost for the second time in three games. Joel Embiid collected 22 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots, and Ben Simmons had 20 points, eight rebounds and seven assists despite, he said, being “pretty sick” earlier in the day with flu-like symptoms.
“I think we lost that game from the jump ball,” Embiid said. “I think we took them lightly, and we paid for it.”
Redick did not disagree.
“There’s a spirit and a disposition and sort of a competitive fire that you have to play with in this league to win a basketball game against anyone,” Redick said. “We’re playing against NBA players — really good NBA players. To win, you have to have that. We were just flat.”
Phoenix led by as many as 17 points in the first half and was up 93-79 after a basket by Josh Jackson with 11:26 left in the game. Redick then poured in 13 points in a 15-6 Philadelphia rush, the last of those on a 3-pointer from the right wing with 4:49 remaining, making it 99-94.
Ulis answered with a 3-pointer and Booker nailed two more, the second a contested fadeaway from the top of the circle with the shot clock running down.
Booker’s steal and breakaway dunk made it 110-94.
After Robert Covington made a 3-pointer for the Sixers (13-10), Booker made yet another triple, then a jumper to give the Suns a 115-97 advantage.
The Suns crafted a 60-47 halftime lead behind 15 points from Warren and 14 from Booker. Phoenix, which outscored Philadelphia 32-19 in the second quarter, converted 10 offensive rebounds into 10 second-chance points in the half, while the Sixers had five such points on five offensive boards.
Embiid had 14 points, seven rebounds and two blocks at that point, while Simmons contributed 12 points.
The Suns maintained a double-digit lead until Philadelphia ran off six straight points late in the third quarter to cut the gap to 82-75.
Booker scored the last seven Phoenix points of the period, including a three-point play with 6.1 seconds left, to give the Suns an 89-79 cushion entering the fourth quarter.
NOTES: Sixers G T.J. McConnell missed his third consecutive game with a shoulder sprain but said he hopes to return for the Thursday home game against the Los Angeles Lakers. “Range of motion is getting back,” he said before the game, “but when I tried to shoot it wasn’t quite where I wanted to be. I’m not going to play limited. I’m going to get some more treatment on it and go from there.” ... Philadelphia G/F Ben Simmons said his illness left him feeling like he “kind of hit a wall.” He first felt sick last Friday, when he managed a season-low five points in a victory over Detroit, and on Sunday, he said, “I could not move.” ... The Sixers continue to be without G/F Justin Anderson (shin splints). ... Phoenix C Alex Len returned after missing one game with an ankle sprain. He scored seven points. ... The Suns play at Toronto on Tuesday.