Nuggets use big second-half run to beat Suns 123-113
Will Barton (5) is escorted to the bench by coach Michael Malone, right, after being called for a technical foul during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)
By Jack Magruder, Associated Press
PHOENIX (AP) — Wilson Chandler scored 26 points, Will Barton had 25 point and the Denver Nuggets used an extended second-half run to take control in a 123-113 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time).
Nikola Jokic had 21 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, and Gary Harris had 13 points for the Nuggets, who have won 4-of-5.
TJ Warren had 31 points and Dragan Bender had a career-high 23 for the Suns, who have lost five in a row, 10-of-11 and 13-of-15. One of those wins came in Denver on Jan. 19 (Jan. 20, PHL time). Their only other victory in that stretch was against Dallas at home.
Barton scored 11 points during a 21-9 run that gave the Nuggets a 94-89 lead after three quarters, and Denver scored the first five points of the fourth quarter for a 13-point cushion.
Jokic’s three-pointer from the top of the key made it 109-95 with 6:29 remaining, capping a longer 36-15 run.
Marquese Chriss’ fast-break dunk closed the Suns’ deficit to 109-103 with 4:29 remaining, but Barton hit a three-pointer and Chandler hit two from the right corner to put away the game.
Elfrid Payton made a strong first impression for the Suns with 19 points, nine assists and six rebounds in 35 minutes. He was acquired from Orlando at the trade deadline Thursday (Friday, PHL time).
Josh Jackson had 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
The Suns played without leading scorer Devin Booker, Tyson Chandler and Tyler Ulis.
Booker, who is 12th in the league with 24.1 points per game, has missed the last three games with a hip pointer. Chandler was out with a neck injury and Ulis with back spasms.
Phoenix made a much better showing than in the previous game Wednesday (Thursday, PHL tiem), a 129-81 loss to San Antonio that tied the Suns’ worst ever. They set the record against Portland on opening night this season.
Nuggets: The Nuggets are one of six teams within 3.5 games of each other in the race for the final four playoff spots in the West.
Suns: Phoenix was 14-of-25 from the free throw line, with Warren 5-of-9 and Josh Jackson 0-of-3.
The Suns have only two games remaining until the All-Star break, but there is no plan to keep Booker and his sore hip out until after the break as precautionary measure.
“It depends completely on his injury,” Suns interim coach Jay Triano said. “I don’t think it makes sense to rush him back if he is not a hundred percent or there is chance of re-injury or causing some long-term damage.
“He wants to play. He is down in the gym shooting. He shoots a little bit and then he starts to move and it kind of hits him where this doesn’t feel great.”
Booker has missed three straight games with a hip injury after missing one game two weeks ago with a rib injury.
Nuggets: Host Spurs on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time).
Suns: Visit Warriors on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time).