PHILADELPHIA -- Twenty minutes before tip-off, it was unclear whether Joel Embiid's balky left ankle would be well enough for him to suit up for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Clearly, the big man was more than healthy.
Embiid scored a career-high 26 points, Nik Stauskas added a season-high 21 points and the Sixers led from start to finish in a 120-105 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
"I felt great," Embiid said. "When you play, you don't really pay attention to those kind of things. During the game, I was fine. Even now, it's fine."
Stauskas was terrific as well, connecting on 8 of 9 shots from the field, including 5 of 6 from 3-point range.
"My jump shot felt great," Stauskas said. "And every time my jump shot feels great, my confidence just starts to grow. I felt comfortable out there."
Embiid suffered a sprained left ankle during last Thursday's embarrassing loss at Minnesota. But after going through a pregame routine, the Sixers announced that Embiid would indeed start and be limited to 24 minutes.
Embiid had missed four games this season for mandated rest after two lost seasons with two surgeries on his right foot.
The 7-foot-2 Embiid didn't show any signs of his injury as he hit 9 of 14 from the field, 3 of 5 from 3-point territory and 5 of 6 from the free throw line in 21 minutes. He added seven rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots.
"One thing I told myself before the season is just go out and play," Embiid said. "Whatever happens happens. If something happens, something happens. I just play freely and that's what I've been doing since the beginning of the season."
"You give any team confidence at home and they can get rolling," Suns coach Earl Watson said. "They have a lot of confidence here. Their crowd was energetic and Embiid in limited minutes was more than effective."
Booker was also uncertain whether he would start because of a sprained left ankle. But like Embiid, Booker was in the starting lineup but didn't appear quite as healthy.
"He struggled," Watson said of Booker. "He gave all he had. He knew he wanted to play because we didn't have T.J. He sacrificed his body. That's just the type of person he is. You could see he could barely move."
Leading by 17 points entering the fourth quarter, the Sixers embarked a 5-0 run.
They never eased up and cruised to the victory.
"I thought we responded well when we came back from Houston," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "I think we responded well when we came back from Minnesota. Any time a group shows they have the ability to respond, to bounce back, to take stuff at practice and bring it forward, it's a good sign."
The Suns crept within 72-66, but the Sixers ripped off 10 straight points to quickly extend their lead to 16. The last basket during the spurt had Rodriguez throwing an alley-oop pass to Stauskas, who threw down a one-hand dunk.
Embiid scorched the Suns for 17 points in the first quarter alone, going 6 of 8 from the field and hitting three of his four 3-pointers. He added four rebounds and one blocked shot in seven very efficient minutes.
Embiid scored 10 of the Sixers' first 12 minutes and they wound up leading 32-19 after the first quarter.
The Suns made a run late in the first half thanks to five straight points from Bledsoe to get within 55-48. Stauskas, who was 4 of 4 in the first half, dropped in a difficult 3-pointer with 6.2 seconds remaining to extend the Sixers' lead back to 10.
Bledsoe led all scorers with 20 points in the first half and Embiid paced the Sixers with 19.
NOTES: Sixers coach Brett Brown said that he had a meeting earlier Saturday with injured F-C Nerlens Noel but wouldn't give a timetable for his return. Noel has missed all 13 regular-season games after undergoing surgery for an inflamed plica in his left knee. "It was great seeing Nerlens," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "It was a great conversation." ... The Suns were without F T.J. Warren (illness) and C Tyson Chandler (personal reasons). ... Phoenix recalled F Derrick Jones Jr. from the Northern Arizona Suns of the D-League. ... Sixers F Robert Covington has struggled with his shooting most of the season, especially going 9 of 47 in the last five games and 6 of 34 from beyond the arc. "I've thought about bringing Covington off the bench," Brown said. "But I'm not going to do it. Shooters shoot."