Lob passes fed into flying dunks, an offense run at a frantic pace, the 76ers thrived when they played like the best of the run-and-gun Suns days.
Those are the days the Suns hope haven't yet slipped away.
Evan Turner and Lou Williams each scored 14 points for a Sixers team that used a 67 percent shooting first quarter to spark an energetic effort. The Sixers shot nearly 60 percent for most of the game and built a 22-point lead in the third.
The Sixers won their 14th home game, two more than last season. Coach Doug Collins and the rest of the team are openly talking about catching New York for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference.
More nights like this one and they might get there.
“We pushed it because we knew they'd be tired,” Collins said.
“And we really moved the ball, and we didn't quick shoot, and that was good. Because if you quick shoot, then that feeds into what Phoenix likes to do.”
Not against the Sixers.
Jared Dudley led the Suns with 23 points, and Steve Nash had 17 points and nine assists. The Suns had 16 turnovers.
After a 3-0 start to their road trip, the Suns finished with losses to sub-.500 teams Detroit and Philadelphia. They scored fewer than 80 points in a game for the first time vs. the Pistons and didn't break 80 in this one until there was 4:40 left in the game.
Grant Hill, who played for Collins in Detroit, told his former coach the Sixers caught the Suns at the right time.
The last game of a road trip surely played a factor, but in an up-and-down style of game, the young legs of Turner, Williams and Jrue Holiday had more spring than Nash, Hill and Vince Carter.
By that point, the Sixers already scored 101 points and were chasing their season-high total of 123, also set against the Suns. They fell off the pace down the stretch, but Brand and Young were potent inside: A combined 21 for 32 from the field with 16 rebounds.
Young enjoyed the freewheeling offense he doesn't usually get to play against the bump-and-bang power forwards in the East. The rare time he was trapped in the paint, Young passed to an open teammate and finished with five assists.
“Their bigs like to step out and shoot jumpers, so that's perfect for me,” Young said.
The Sixers scored 61 points in the first half, only four shy of their season-high total for a half, also set against the Suns.
The Sixers caused turnovers, thrived on the break and dunked their way to one of their most acrobatic games of the season. The highlight came on back-to-back plays late in the second quarter that wowed the crowd.
Holiday turned a steal into a fastbreak dunk, then Andre Iguodala set up Young with a perfect pass for a dazzling alley-oop that gave them a 10-point lead.
Iguodala sprinted from the right side and tossed an underhand lob to a streaking Young for a left-handed throwdown that may have been the team's top dunk of the season.
“I tell 'Dre all the time, 'Take something off it,'” Young said, laughing.
Young picked off Nash's backdoor attempt to Carter in the first quarter and fed to Turner for a pull-up jumper in a play that was just a preview of the active defense and sharp shooting ahead.
The Sixers kept it close to the rim and finished with 23 fastbreak points.
“They're a young group that likes to run,” Phoenix's Channing Frye said. “They're well-coached and look like they know what they're doing.”
About the only Sixer missing out on the fun was Iguodala, who scored eight points in his 32 minutes, down from his 14.3 average.
Holiday got the better of Nash when he stripped the veteran of the ball, dashed down the court and fed Iguodala for a two-handed alley-oop and a 73-55 lead. The Sixers were lobbing passes and slamming them home like they do in pregame warmups.
Collins told the Sixers he didn't want the score to get close enough where Nash, Carter and Hill would start to take over the game.
The Suns didn't get hot until late in the fourth, using an 11-0 run to get within 10. With a minute left, it was too late for a team that hoped a revamped roster after a December trade with Orlando would be tougher defensively.
“Once again, we had too many turnovers and that's an immediate concern,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “You can't do that in this league and expect to win. We have to do a better job at protecting the ball.”
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