What started off as an exciting matchup between two good teams, ended with the Sixers’ weaknesses being exposed for a second straight game.

The Sixers fell to the Suns, 120-111, in a matinee matchup at Phoenix Suns Arena. The loss drops the Sixers to 18-9 on the season. After the starting lineup lost its first game together Thursday against the Trail Blazers, they’ve now lost two in a row. Phoenix has now won six straight and improves to 16-9.

Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid both came out of the gates strong, combining for 31 of the Sixers’ 53 first-half points. While the Sixers held All-Stars Devin Booker and Chris Paul somewhat in check early, they found themselves tied with the Suns going into the half.

The Sixers’ bench was once again outplayed by the opponent’s reserves. Former Sixer Dario Saric led a charge, scoring nine points in his first-half stint. While playing the five, Saric was able to expose Dwight Howard’s lack of mobility in the pick-and-roll with Paul. Phoenix’s bench outscored the Sixers 29-10 at the half. Without Shake Milton, who is still nursing a left ankle sprain, the Sixers’ second unit is struggling to find offense.

In the third quarter, Booker showed why he is one of the most dangerous players in the league. He went for 16 points and gave the Suns a five-point lead going into the fourth. Doc Rivers mixed up his bench unit, deploying a lineup with Embiid, Seth Curry, and reserves to start the fourth. It didn’t help, as Phoenix took its largest lead of the game to that point at 11 less than two minutes into the final period.

The starters came back in and made a run to reduce the lead to five, but it was just too much to overcome with Booker and Paul helping seal the win for the Suns. Booker finished with a game-high 36 points while Paul had 18 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds.

Embiid finished with 35 points. Simmons and Harris each had 18.

Just like Thursday night in Portland, bench scoring and three-point shooting doomed the Sixers. Saric single-handedly outscored the Sixers’ bench for the game, 19-13. Rivers mentioned pregame that the second unit’s offense has hurt the team and the lack of ball movement has led to offense for opponents.

As a team, the Sixers hit just 7 of 17 from three -- a solid percentage but a low total. It seems like Daryl Morey and company have obvious holes to fix as we move closer to the March 25 trade deadline.

Unfortunately, the schedule doesn’t lighten up for the Sixers at all. They’ll close out their four-game West Coast swing Monday against the red-hot Utah Jazz, who own the best record in the NBA.

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