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PHILADELPHIA – Philadelphia center Joel Embiid and guard J.J. Reddick closed in on Devin Booker, their double team meant to get the ball out of Booker’s hands.

Booker had other ideas.

He dribbled right around Embiid, losing Reddick in the process and rose up for a two-handed dunk that gave the Suns a 17-point lead and caused Dragan Bender to leap up from the bench with a “that was dirty” look on his face.

By the end of Phoenix’s improbable 115-101 victory over the 76ers Monday at Wells Fargo Center, Booker had a lot of Philadelphia fans making faces. He scored a season-high 46 points, just the second time in his career he’s eclipsed the 40-point mark, the first of course, being his 70-point explosion in Boston last March.

That, after making just 2 of 11 shots in the first quarter.

“I’ve been in the league for a long time and when you see special you know it,” center Tyson Chandler said. “And this kid is special. He’s going to be special for a long time.”

It’s hardly a stretch to say this was Phoenix’s best win of the season, the only comparable being the six-point road victory over Washington on Nov. 1. On the fifth game of an 11-day, six-game road trip, the Suns beat a Sixers team that has two of the league’s best young players in Embiid and point guard Ben Simmons and, incredibly, never trailed after the first quarter.

“After that performance in Boston (a 116-111 loss Sunday) we came up short but I think it lit a fire under us,” Booker said.

Booker will get the headlines and rightfully so. He scored 42 points in the final three quarters, making 15 of 21 shots. His 10 games of 30-plus points this season are the most in franchise history through 25 games and only he, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James have scored 30 points at least 10 times this season.

“We saw it when he had that 70,” interim coach Jay Triano said. “He gets that look. It doesn’t matter how closely you guard him, it doesn’t matter who guards him. He just finds a way to create space and be electric.”

Or as Josh Jackson put it, “There’s nothing you can do. There’s nothing you can do at all.”

But Booker doesn’t win the game for the Suns without some help. He got it from point guard Tyler Ulis, who had his first double-double of the season with 12 points and a season-high 12 assists. He got it from sidekick T.J. Warren, who scored 25 points with eight rebounds and three assists. He got it from a Philadelphia team that made just 7 of 30 3-point point shots.

Most notably, he got it from the defense Chandler and Alex Len played on Embiid and the challenge Jackson accepted in covering Simmons.

Embiid got his numbers, scoring 22 points with 12 rebounds and four blocked shots, but he made just seven of 18 shots as Len and Chandler, in particular, made him labor for every point.

“He’s one of the most skilled bigs I’ve seen in this league,” Chandler said. “I knew I had to just make it difficult for him. I knew for us to have any chance I had to make him work.”

Triano, understanding the 5-foot-10 Ulis and 6-foot Mike James would have no chance at guarding the 6-foot-10 Simmons, switched his defensive assignments, putting his point guards on Reddick and Jerryd Bayless while Warren and Jackson took turns guarding Simmons.

Simmons filled up the box score – 20 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and six steals – but as strange as it sounds with those numbers, he didn’t dominate the game and in the second half scored just eight points on 3-of-8 shooting. Credit Jackson, who got into Simmons and had the quickness to recover defensively if Simmons got by him.

“Defense was key,” Triano said. “We made their best players feel a little uncomfortable. They still put up good numbers, they’re still great players but I thought we made them work for everything they got.”

The Sixers tried to do the same to Booker. Philadelphia coach Brett Brown ran multiple defenders at Booker, changed his pick-and-roll defense, tried to trap Booker and double him in the post.

None of it mattered.

Whenever Philadelphia made a run, Booker answered. After the Sixers cut the Suns’ lead to seven points late in the third quarter, Booker responded with seven points in the final 32 seconds to extend Phoenix’s advantage to 10. When Philadelphia got within five with 4:49 remaining, Booker scored eight points in an 11-0 Phoenix run that sealed the game.

Booker had 19 points in the fourth quarter. Philadelphia had 22.

So much for a slow start.

“Like I said, shooters never stop shooting,” Booker said. “I’ve been living with that motto since I was 3 years old.”

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