PHOENIX - New year, new 76ers? Maybe so.
Jump-starting the final three games of what has been a disastrous 2015, the Sixers met the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night at the Talking Stick Resort Arena. The hope was to begin the final week of the season on a high note.
That's exactly what happened as the Sixers took a 111-104 victory. The much-needed win improved them to 2-30. It also snapped their 12-game losing streak and marked their first road win in 24 games, dating to last season.
There was a new vibe around this team all day. Maybe it had to do with the team bringing back point guard Ish Smith. Perhaps it had something to do with Carl Landry playing in his second game. It could have had something to do with Nik Stauskas breaking his shooting slump. How about Mike D'Antoni's first day as the associate head coach, or new chairman of basketball operations Jerry Colangelo watching the game from a suite?
"Guys kind of refreshed themselves," Nerlens Noel said. "We want to come with a better mind-set that the second third of the season we want to continue to progress and play up-pace basketball and put some numbers on the board with scoring and defense."
There were plenty of reasons to pinpoint why the Sixers posted their second win of the season.
Isaiah Canaan led all scorers with 22 points while making 4 of 8 three-pointers. Noel had 14 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. But the Sixers looked like a much better team in large part because of Smith, Landry, and Stauskas.
The Sixers reacquired Smith for a pair of second-round picks from the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday. The 6-foot point guard arrived Saturday, hours before game time, and it was as if he never left the team.
Smith made 6 of 15 shots to finish with 14 points. He also had five assists and two rebounds. The sixth-year veteran ran the show just like he did after the Sixers picked him up on waivers in February.
"When I got off the ball in the fourth quarter, I was able to relax and be really good defensively and save my energy for the defensive end," said Smith, who scored six of his points in the final quarter. "And then offensively, I thank God I hit some big shots."
Smith ran the offense, finding Noel for easy baskets and Canaan and Stauskas for three-pointers. He also came up with clutch baskets in the fourth quarter. Performances like this are the reason general manager Sam Hinkie regretted not re-signing him in the offseason.
"He's a floor general," Noel said. " He's able to do so many things with his athleticism in the halfcourt and he's a great pick-and-roll player and he's real savvy around the basket.
"He helps guys get involved. He's definitely something special for this team."
Stauskas hadn't scored a point since he finished with five against the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 14. He had four consecutive doughnut games before he did not play at all on Wednesday at Milwaukee.
But he went to finish with 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting as a reserve. He made 3 of 4 three-pointers.
Landry added 16 points and eight rebounds off the bench in his second game back after missing the first 29 games while rehabbing from offseason wrist surgery.
Sixers rookie Richaun Holmes suffered a right knee sprain in the third quarter. Another rookie, Jahlil Okafor, missed the game with a sore right knee. Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe suffered a sprained right knee in the second quarter.