PHOENIX, ARIZONA - MARCH 27: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers handles the ball during the first half of the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center on March 27, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona.

By Dylan MacKinnon

A 37 point game from Joel Embiid was not enough for the Sixers to leave Phoenix with a win. They kept it close for most of the time, but the Sixers couldn’t hang in late, and the Suns showed why they have such a huge lead over the rest of the NBA. In the end, the Suns closed out and took a 114-104 win over the Sixers. Both teams showed up to play in this potential preview of the NBA finals, but one team had the edge and took the win.

The first quarter did not disappoint. The Two MVP candidates in Joel Embiid and Devin Booker showed off. Devin Booker led all scorers with 22pts on 8 of 11 shooting. But Embiid was not far behind. The big man had 15pts on 6 of 8 shooting, to go with 4 rebounds. Both teams had no trouble getting shots to fall, with each shooting over 60% from the field, and from deep. But it was the Sixers who held the small lead at the end of the frame, 39-37.

The start of the second quarter was all Tobias Harris. The Sixers started it on a 12-0 run, with all 12 pts either scored or assisted by Harris. It started with a Deandre Jordan Alley-oop from Harris. Then Harris scored two buckets within 20 seconds. After that, he found Tyrese Maxey. And he followed that up with two more buckets of his own. Chris Paul eventually broke up the Sixers’ run with a mid-range jumper, but Harris helped the Sixers build a double-digit lead.

That double-digit lead did not last once Devin Booker came back in though. The Suns had a 13-0 run of their own, and all of a sudden they were right back to a 2pt lead like they started the quarter with. But a strong push, thanks in large part to James Harden, got them out to another 8-0 run. At the end of the half, they lead 64-60.

Suns took the lead in the third quarter, however. Booker got back to scoring and added 10 more pts to his total after scoring 0 in the second quarter. Tyrese Maxey tried to help the Sixers keep pace by scoring 10 of his own. But despite that, the Sixers were outscored 31-22 in the frame. A scary moment came late in the third when Embiid seemed to hurt his ankle coming down with an offensive rebound. He left the game, but stayed on the bench, and eventually returned.

But with Embiid out, the Suns built on their lead. By the time Embiid came back in 4 minutes into the quarter, the Suns were up by 8. That lead would be stretched to 11 shortly after that on a Landry Shamet 3pter. But Maxey, ever the clutch player, hit two 3’s and made some defensive plays, to go with 4pts from Embiid, and the lead was cut to just 1.

The Sixers couldn’t hang in though. The Suns ended up winning. They closed out the game shooting 5 of 8, and the Sixers just couldn’t keep up. The Sixers kept it close for most of the game, but in the end the firepower of the Suns was just too much. After starting 3-5 from deep, the Sixers went 7-31 from deep the rest of the game.

They are now 46-28 on the season. The loss drops them from the 1 seed, to the 4 seed. They are .5 games back from both the Heat and the Celtics, and tied with the Bucks. The next game they will play is vs the Bucks on Tuesday Night. There they will try to bounce back after the Sixers couldn’t hang in and get a win in tonight’s game.