Ben Simmons had led all scorers at halftime of the Philadelphia 76ers’ road game at the Phoenix Suns but his output then dried up in a 120-111 loss for the NBA’s eastern conference leaders.
Simmons had 16 points in the first hal as the teams went to the long break level at 53-all.
However, the Australian star managed just two more points for the game to finish with 18 points, six rebounds and four assists as the Suns took control of proceedings.
The 76ers’ offense wasn’t great down the stretch but the real problem was their defence as Phoenix shot 60.8 per cent from the field and got 49 points from their bench players.
“We know we’re not going to stop teams every possession, teams are going to score, but we’ve got to make it tough,” Simmons said.
Devin Booker lost plenty of games in his first five NBA seasons and that’s part of what makes these past few weeks even more sweet for the Suns shooting guard.
He scored a game-high 36 points while veteran point guard Chris Paul added 18 points and dished out 10 assists in Phoenix’s fifth straight victory.
“It’s so nice, man,” Booker said.
“We’re deep. I feel like we’re 15 deep.
“Everyone can play and everyone’s ready to go.”
The Suns have won eight of their past nine games and improved to 16-9 to be fourth in the western conference standings.
They got a big game from their bench against Philadelphia, especially from former Sixers forward Dario Saric, who scored 15 points in his first game back after missing 13 straight due to COVID-19 health and safety protocol and an ankle issue.
Joel Embiid had 35 points on 12-of-23 shooting for the Sixers, who are 18-9.