A total team effort by the Phoenix Suns (10-6) led them to a 120-112 win over the Denver Nuggets (7-8). Phoenix never scored fewer than 27 in a quarter and they handed out a total of 27 assists. Seven Suns players scored double figures as they ended Denver’s five-game win streak. During their win streak, the Nuggets were holding their opponents to 99.4 points per game, limiting them to 41.5 percent shooting, including 31.0 percent from beyond the arc. Against the Suns, the Nuggets allowed Phoenix to score 120 points, shoot 51.1 percent from the field, and shoot a season high 52.0 percent from three.
“It was probably a tough game for us coming off of the long road trip. To fight through that little bit of tiredness … these guys just kept playing and I’m proud of them.” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek
The game went back and forth in the first quarter with both teams getting easy baskets and shooting at least 50.0 percent from the field. The Suns took an early 5 point lead, then the Nuggets came back to lead by 6 when Timofey Mozgov scored on an alley-oop dunk with 4:41 remaining. Mozgov would finish with 18 points and a game high 13 rebounds for the Nuggets. Alex Len entered the game for the Suns and scored 8 points in the final 1:44 of the quarter. Eric Bledsoe, who finished the game with 21 points, 10 assists, and 3 steals, added another 8 points in the first quarter, including a last-second floater to give the Suns a 34-30 lead heading into quarter number two.
The Suns stretched their lead to 8 points early in the second, after Gerald Green sank a 3-pointer and a short jumper on his way to scoring 8 points in the quarter. Green would finish with a game high 24 points, including shooting 6 of 11 from three. The Nuggets battled back and took a 55-53 lead when Arron Afflalo drained a 3-pointer with 2:50 remaining before halftime. Afflalo would score 18 points for the Nuggets before the night was through. The Nuggets continued to stay hot, shooting 52.9 percent in the quarter, while the Suns shooting dropped to 36.0 percent. Bledsoe, as he did in the first period, made another basket with less than 5 seconds left before the half. After the game saw 6 ties and 9 lead changes, the score was even at the break, 64-64.
In the third quarter the Suns shooting heated up again, and they dished out 8 assists on their way to shooting 52.4 percent, including 4 of 6 from three. The Nuggets started off cold, making just 3 of their first 13 shots, and ending the quarter with just one assist. The Suns took advantage of the Nuggets poor shooting by going up 85-74 when Green drained his first of three 3-pointers in the quarter with 4:25 remaining. Goran Dragic would also add 9 points in the quarter, on his way to finishing the game with 20 points. Down by 11, the Nuggets went on an 8-0 run to close the lead to 3. Ty Lawson would score 8 of the last 12 Nuggets points in the third to keep Denver within striking distance. Lawson would finish with 17 points and 12 assist, but the Nuggets trailed 93-86 heading into the fourth.
Once again the Suns would slowly stretch out their lead until they reached a game high of 16 when Green finished an alley-oop dunk at 6:46 left in the game. This time, the lead was too much for the Nuggets to come back from. Denver was unable to get any closer than 6 points after Wilson Chandler hit a 3-pointer with just 9.9 seconds remaining. Chandler would finish as the Nuggets high scorer with 19 points, but the Suns shooting was too hot to handle.
The Phoenix Suns have now beaten the Denver Nuggets five straight games, and with so many weapons, it was as if they didn’t even miss their leading scorer Isaiah Thomas (15.5 PPG). Thomas did not play because he was recovering from a bruised right ankle he suffered against Toronto on Monday night. The Nuggets out-rebounded (47-41), outscored in the paint (48-44), scored more fast break points (25-23), and had more second chance points (23-17) than the Suns, but couldn’t overcome the total team effort by Phoenix. The Suns have shot 52 of 120 (43.3%) from beyond the arc in their last four games. Phoenix has won five of their last six games, and they are playing with a lot of confidence. The Suns face the Nuggets in Denver next, as they finish off a home-and-home set.