Updated: Monday, January 1, 2018, 8:04 AM
PHOENIX – Here are my key takeaways and “best” and “worst” awards from the 76ers’ 123-110 victory over the Phoenix Suns Sunday night at the Talking Stick Resort Arena.
— Dario Saric is back to the form that led to being last season’s NBA rookie of the year runner-up. His tied his season-high points total with 27 points. He made 4 of 5 three-pointers and had four rebounds, two assists, three steals and a block. That came one night after the power forward finished with 20 points and nine rebounds in a victory over the Denver Nuggets. Saric also produced 25 points and nine boards in Thursday’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. This a solid three-game stretch for the 23-year-old.
— Joel Embiid has another injury the Sixers are going to have to monitor. The center sprained his right hand with 3 minutes, 54 seconds while crashing to the floor after colliding with Devin Booker. Embiid stayed in the game and his X-rays were negative. Embiid thinks he’ll be fine. But as of late Sunday, his status for Wednesday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs at Wells Fargo Center has not been determined.
— The Sixers didn’t resemble the poor-shooting bunch we have been witnessing recently. They actually shot 55.8 percent, their season-high for field goal percentage. Their previous season-best was the 55.0 percent they produced in a victory over the Houston Rockets on Oct. 30. We talk a lot about their need to limit turnovers and fouls. However, the Sixers have now shot 50 percent or better seven times. They are 6-1 on those games.
— Booker just might be the most underrated players in the NBA. The Suns shooting guard finished with a game-high 32 points. It marked his 12th 30-point game of the season and fifth in the last eight games. On this night, 16 of his points came in the third quarter. Then he added 12 more in the fourth quarter. They were the 24th and 25th times that he’s scored at least 10 points in a quarter.
— Don’t look now, but the Sixers matched an opponent’s free-throw attempts. They attempted 34, making 27 of them. Meanwhile, the Suns went 26 of 34 from the foul line. On Saturday, the Nuggets attempted 34 foul shots, making 25 of them. The Sixers went 9 of 10 from the foul line. On Thursday, they made 10 of 14 while, the Trail Blazers went 36-47.
‘Best’ and ‘worst’ awards
Best performance: This was a tough one, but I’m giving it Saric. The second-year player was unstoppable through the first three quarters. That’s when he scored 22 of his points on 7-for-9 shooting. He ended up going 9-for-13 from the field. Worst performance: Suns reserve Troy Daniels gets this one. He shot 1-for-6 from the field – all three-point attempts – en route to finishing with five points in 20 minutes, 35 seconds. He graded out with a minus 22. Best defensive performance: This goes to Ben Simmons. The Sixers point guard finished with a game-high three blocked shots and tied Saric for a team-high three steals. Worst statistic: This goes to the Sixers committing 21 turnovers. Best statistic: You have to give this to the Sixers shooting 55.8 percent. Worst of the worst: This goes to Booker’s shooting in the fourth-quarter. He made just 3 of 10 shots. At that point, he was just jacking up shots.