Scalding-hot Suns burn down Pepsi Center with obscene shooting night

Jan 19, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) looks to move the ball as Phoenix Suns guard Tyler Ulis (8) defends in the first quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets finally felt like they were going to get some positive momentum on their side after a tough start to 2018. They were hosting the Phoenix Suns and had Jamal Murray surprisingly return from a concussion so it seemed as though the table was set for a bounce-back performance. Instead, they allowed the Phoenix Suns to come into the Pepsi Center and thoroughly outplay the Nuggets — in Denver nonetheless — for three quarters. The Nuggets finally arrived with about five minutes left in regulation. Unfortunately, the late rally was not enough as Denver fell 108-100 to the lowly Suns at home for an atrocious loss.

The Nuggets came out looking like they had something to prove in the first quarter as they blitzed the Suns to the tune of an 8-0 run to start the game. Phoenix answered with a run of their own, but it only lasted a short time as the Nuggets battled back eventually taking a two-point lead into the second quarter by a score of 31-29.

The best part of the first quarter was the battle of the Kentucky alumni. There were four starters between the Suns and Nuggets who used to play at Kentucky; Denver with Trey Lyles and Jamal Murray, and Phoenix with Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker. Murray got the scoring started with 10 points in the first quarter while Lyles added six points of his own. Booker and Ulis combined for just five points.

The Suns came out with a fury to start the second quarter and outscored the Nuggets 10-0 in the first 2:40 of the second quarter to take an eight-point lead. All of the energy seemed to have been sapped from the Nuggets as their defense began getting sliced up on inbound plays and allowing leak-outs in transition.

From there, things spiraled out of control. The Nuggets went down by as much as 15 points while allowing the Suns to shoot an obscene 11-19 from three-point distance in the first half. Booker became a human inferno and sealed off his explosive first-half performance with just a savage three-pointer right in Murray’s face.

As the game progressed, it became the battle of the Kentucky lead guards. Booker finished the first half with 15 points while Murray countered that with 19 points of his own.

Denver was able to get the chaos under control and closed within striking distance. The Nuggets went into halftime down 60-50 in what could have been a significantly a significantly worst first two quarters.

The third quarter was a complete blitzkrieg by Murray. He scored three-straight buckets, two of which were some of the most ferocious dunks of his career. Just watch, witness, and be amazed.

The first dunk was a one-handed hammer over Tyson Chandler, who waited for a half-second too long to make the business decision to step out of his way.

The second was pure anger from Murray. He wanted Booker to feel this dunk so he double-clutched and slammed it home with two hands while completing the sequence with a flex.

Unfortunately, those couple of plays was really the only positives from a very forgettable third quarter. Denver failed to close the gap and went into the fourth and final period of play down 85-73.

The fourth quarter started as the Josh Jackson show as he continued to take it straight at Barton over and over and over and over again. There was nothing Barton could do to slow Jackson as he waltzed to a hyper-efficient 16 points on just nine shots.

Denver suddenly arrived with about five minutes left in the game. Jokic drew a foul on Jared Dudley and got the Nuggets into the bonus. From there, Jokic hit a three, Harris followed it with a floater, and the Nuggets found themselves down just five points with 3:32 left in the game.

The game ended in too-little, too-late fashion for the Nuggets who failed to arrive until there were just five minutes left in regulation. By a score of 108-100, Denver fell at home to an abysmal Suns team for what could be considered their worst loss of the season.

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