PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid scored a career-high 26 points in 20 minutes, and the Philadelphia 76ers routed the Phoenix Suns 120-105 on Saturday night for their most convincing win of the season.
Nik Stauskas added a season-high 21 points on 8-for-9 shooting for the Sixers, who have split their last six games after starting the season with seven straight losses. Sergio Rodriguez had eight points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.
Eric Bledsoe led Phoenix (4-10) with 27 points. The Suns have lost three of their first four on their current six-game road trip.
Embiid was 3 for 5 from 3-point range and 9 for 14 from the field overall. He also grabbed seven rebounds and blocked two shots, including a ferocious one on Devin Booker in the second quarter that got the crowd roaring.
The 7-foot-2 center, playing in just his ninth NBA game after a pair of foot surgeries sidelined him for his first two seasons, reached his career high on a jumper with 8:30 left.
After a 3-point play from Bledsoe got Phoenix within six midway through the third quarter, the Sixers reeled off a 10-0 run to open an 82-66 lead. They led by double figures the rest of the way against a banged-up Phoenix team playing the second end of a back-to-back.
Embiid and Booker were game-time decisions due to sprained ankles. Each of them started and Embiid jumped all over the Suns, scoring Philly’s first eight points and 10 in the first three minutes, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Later in the first quarter, Embiid had eight points in a 10-0 run that helped Philadelphia to a 31-17 advantage. The Sixers threatened to pull away in the second, but Bledsoe scored 15 in the quarter to help the Suns close to 58-48 at halftime.
76ers: After shooting 1 for 5 from the field, slumping sharpshooter Robert Covington has missed 27 of his last 31 shots, leading to plenty of boos from the crowd. … Coach Brett Brown said he had a positive meeting with Nerlens Noel, who has been out all season with a knee injury, but didn’t offer a timetable for his return. … The Sixers have won three straight at home, but dropped their last 21 on the road – two away from matching a franchise record.
THE EMBIID PROCESS
Embiid, who already has missed four games this season as the Sixers slowly ease him back, was limited to 24 minutes or less. Jahlil Okafor, who platoons with him at center, was under the same minutes restriction because of knee surgery last season.