PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Devin Booker was unguarded as he swished a 26-foot three-pointer, and shrugged as he tossed up his hands.
The Suns were surely impressed.
The 76ers? Well, they likely wished they could have stayed in bed and called out sick.
Booker scored 46 points and outplayed a flu-ridden Ben Simmons in a battle of 21-year-old stars, and led the Phoenix Suns to a 115-101 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night.
Booker and Simmons, the No 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft, have positioned themselves as future faces of the league.
Booker was the one who left all smiles.
“I know there’s more things I have to work on,” Booker said. “Turn around this franchise, start to get wins and make the playoffs. Whatever I have to do to do that, I’m with it.”
He shook off a wretched start (two of 11 in the first quarter) and rallied for perhaps his game of the season. Booker, who once scored 70 points in a game, made a whopping 11 of 17 shots in the second half for 32 points. His three 3s in the fourth helped the Suns put away an on-the-rise Sixers team that played one of their worst games of the season. Booker made five of eight 3s.
“Devin had quite a night,” 76ers centre Joel Embiid said. “We took them lightly and we paid for it.”
TJ Warren scored 25 points and Tyler Ulis had 12 points and 12 assists for the Suns.
Embiid had 22 points and 12 rebounds and Simmons scored 20 points. JJ Redick led the Sixers with 25 points.
Redick rallied the Sixers from 17 down and hit consecutive 3s in the fourth that sliced the deficit to five.
Ulis pushed back the Sixers with a three and Booker buried two on the next two possessions that squashed the 76ers’ comeback for good. Booker let out a big yell after a fastbreak dunk that made it 110-94 and sent The Process fans toward the exits. Booker added one more three for good measure and a shrug.
Simmons had the flu and covered his head with his hoodie as he trudged off the court from pregame warmups to the locker room.
“I feel like my body kind of hit a wall,” Simmons said. “I didn’t feel like I could play.”
Simmons, who averaged 23.1 points and 9.4 rebounds, was sick for most of the last three days and didn’t leave his place at all on Sunday.
“Out of kindness, I’ve decided to still start him,” coach Brett Brown.
Simmons made his first four shots and played 17 minutes in the first half. Fittingly, his first half highlight was a sick dunk: Simmons reached high and snared a low lob pass from Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot that skimmed Dragan Bender’s outstretched finger and completed the alley-oop. Simmons scored on an up-and-under layup that brought the crowd to its feet.
It just wasn’t enough to bring the Sixers a victory.