NBA: Philadelphia 76ers shut out Phoenix Suns, James Harden optimistic over hamstring injury

Ben Simmons scored nine straight points for the Philadelphia 76ers during a stretch in the fourth quarter.
Ben Simmons scored nine straight points for the Philadelphia 76ers during a stretch in the fourth quarter.PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - Dario Saric scored 27 points, and Ben Simmons made big plays in the fourth quarter to help the Philadelphia 76ers hold off the Phoenix Suns for a 123-110 road win on Sunday (Dec 31) at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

Simmons scored nine straight points for Philadelphia during a stretch in the fourth quarter, and J.J. Redick hit a three-pointer off an assist from Simmons that gave the 76ers a 119-108 lead with 1min 31sec to play.

The Australian finished with 21 points, nine rebounds and six assists, and Joel Embiid added 22 points, nine rebounds and five assists for Philadelphia.

Embiid was injured in the fourth quarter and left the arena with his hand iced and bandaged.

"They said it wasn't broken. They think it was sprained, so I guess that's good news," Embiid said.

Saric made nine-of-13 shots and four of his five three-point tries.

The 76ers (17-19) built a big first-half lead and withstood a second-half barrage from the Suns' Devin Booker and T.J. Warren to survive.

The win caps a 3-2 road trip for the Sixers, who will return home for first time since Dec 15 to host the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday.

Booker, in his second game back after missing three weeks with a strained left adductor, scored 32 points for the Suns (14-24) while Warren finished with 28 points.

The 76ers separated themselves from the Suns in the second quarter. They led by 18 points (53-35), after Jerryd Bayless' lay-up with six minutes left in the first half.

Redick hit a pull-up jumper, and Simmons had a dunk in the final two minutes, sending Philadelphia to half-time with a comfortable 63-49 lead.

Booker got hot in the third quarter, scoring 11 points in the first five minutes after halftime and getting the Suns back in the game. He had 16 in the quarter to fuel the Phoenix comeback.

Warren also got going in the third quarter. He completed a three-point play on a dunk and free throw that capped a 20-5 run and trimmed the 76ers' lead to 81-76.

Embiid converted a three-point play, and T.J. McConnell had a bucket in the final seconds of the period to give Philadelphia a 94-92 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The Suns will look to bounce back against the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday.

Houston Rockets guard James Harden remains hopeful that his hamstring injury isn't as bad as feared.

Harden said he had already received treatment and is optimistic that his hamstring injury isn't serious after leaving late in the fourth quarter of Houston's 148-142 double-overtime victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

He came up limping after driving to the basket with 54sec remaining.

The American gingerly left the court with 44sec left and was ruled out by the team in the second overtime period.

Harden finished with 40 points and 11 assists, and said he felt his hamstring pull as he drove toward the basket.

"Hopefully it is not that serious, just a pull on the hammy," Harden told reporters after the game.

"Just got some treatment right now and hopefully, day to day, it gets better.

"I really couldn't run so let me go back here and see what is going on. We'll see. I think we don't play again until (Wednesday against Orlando)... So I got a couple of days."

Houston coach Mike D'Antoni said the team would have to re-evaluate Harden on Monday before determining the extent of the injury.

"I don't think we'll know (more) until (Monday)," D'Antoni said. "I don't think they'll be able to assess it until morning."

Harden has missed only two regular-season games over the past three seasons combined.