EditorsNote: adds “and” in third graf; adds info to fifth graf; tightens final graf
Deandre Ayton had 22 points and 11 rebounds, Devin Booker also scored 22, and the visiting Phoenix Suns beat the Denver Nuggets 106-103 on Friday night.
Chris Paul added 21 points and Mikal Bridges scored 14 for the Suns, who have won four straight.
Jamal Murray had 31 points in his return to the lineup, and Nikola Jokic contributed 17 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds for Denver. Paul Millsap added 15 points and Monte Morris scored 10 off the bench.
The Nuggets played without Michael Porter Jr. and will be without their third-leading scorer for multiple games due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols regarding COVID-19 contact tracing.
Murray sat out Tuesday’s game at Sacramento with an elbow contusion. JaMychal Green made his Denver debut Friday after sitting out the first four contests with a left calf strain, and he compiled eight points and four rebounds in 12 minutes.
Phoenix took the lead in the final minute of the first quarter and kept it for most of the game. It was 94-84 before Jokic hit a layup, Murray scored seven points, Jokic scored off an offensive rebound and Morris hit a 3-pointer from the wing to give the Nuggets a 98-97 lead with 2:41 to go.
Paul’s two free throws and Booker’s 3-pointer put Phoenix back in front. Denver had a chance to tie with 31 seconds left, but Gary Harris lost the ball as he went up for a dunk.
Paul hit a fadeaway from just outside the lane to give the Suns a four-point lead with 7.1 seconds left. Jokic hit a 3-pointer, Paul made two free throws, and Murray missed a 3-point attempt at the horn.
Phoenix led 60-49 at halftime, and the Nuggets got within 65-59 on a 3-pointer by Murray. It was an eight-point game after Green’s dunk, but Phoenix started to pull away.
Booker had a dunk, a layup and a 3-pointer in a 9-2 run, and Phoenix stretched the lead to 87-71, its biggest of the night. Denver scored the final seven points of the third to get within nine heading into the fourth.
–Field Level Media