The Phoenix Suns have the best record in the league at the moment — the first team to five wins in either conference, against only one loss on the front end of last weekend’s back to back.
The Suns blew out to an 87-61 lead late in the third quarter when they drew Nikola Jokic’s 5th foul and the game seemed to be over. But of course it wasn’t.
Showing tired legs in the 4th, the shots began to fall short for the Suns. Trying to outlast the Nuggets, every possession became important down the stretch. Jamal Murray began to take the game over as the Nuggets took the late lead with 2:30 to go 98-97.
But the Suns held strong to close out a gritty Nuggets team. Chris Paul was huge once again, scoring six points in the final minutes to keep the Suns in the lead.
Ayton impressed and was tonight’s player of the game finishing with 22-points, 11-rebounds, and 2-blocks.
“He was a bit of an anchor on both ends of the floor,” Monty Williams said after the game.
Of winning the game after losing the lead there in the fourth, Williams said “it’s a growth moment for us.”
Dario Saric came back from injury for two games against the New Orleans Pelicans and the Utah Jazz to help the Phoenix Suns in both victories. Missing tonight’s game against the Nuggets to rest his quad injury, those minutes will be up for grabs.
After tip-off, it was a fast pace game to start. The Denver Nuggets jumped out to a 19-14 lead before the Suns burn their first timeout. Murray had 12 of their points going 5-6 from the field.
The Suns were able to make the game close with help from Mikal Bridges, Langston Galloway, and Cam Johnson knocking down 3’s when needed going 6-6 from down town. At the end of the first, the Suns had the Nuggets where they wanted them taking a 34-32 lead into the second quarter.
The Defense, as it usually does, picked up in the 2nd quarter. The Suns were able to hold the Nuggets to only 5 points in the first 5 minutes. Team rebounding is also a continued success.
Deandre Ayton with a forceful first half shooting 6-9 from the field with 13 points and seven rebounds. Leading the Nuggets at the halftime: 60-49, the Suns dished out 15 assists and shot 44% from beyond the arc.
In the second half started with a Nuggets run to cut the lead to six points but Ayton continues to destroy the Nuggets in the paint. In past years, this game would be tied, but this year the Suns lead is back to 10 within minutes.
Pulling away from the Nuggets late in the 3rd with an all-around effort, the Suns held a substantial lead 87-78 heading into the 4th quarter. Careless turnovers and poor play led to a minor comeback from the Nuggets.
The lineups to start the game:
TONIGHT'S STARTERS!— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) January 2, 2021
LIVE on FOX Sports Arizona. pic.twitter.com/0FS0Byjhl0
The Jumpman makes his first appearance on the Suns orange jerseys:
*FIXED*@Suns AT @nuggets // Game 6— SunsUniTracker© (@SunsUniTracker) January 1, 2021
Suns are rocking the Statement Edition tonight for #OrangeFridays for the first time this season! Can we start 1-0 in this uniform and 5-1 overall?
Friday | 01.01.21 | 7PM MST#WeAreTheValley | #SunsUniTracker@UniWatch @NuggetsUniforms pic.twitter.com/10APqknqtn
Deandre Ayton with a strong start to the first half with a lot of touches. Taking advantage of it getting an early 6 points and going 0-1 from 3 after comfortably launching it up without hesitation. Admitting that this is a team game and he doesn’t care who scores, as long as they win, it would still be nice to see Ayton throw up 25 points this game.
Mikal Bridges is already out their taking names.
Millsap thought he had him on the switch. Mikal said no. pic.twitter.com/pVQoYLSanQ— Mike Vigil (@protectedpick) January 2, 2021
Galloway after having an off night against Utah, comes out to nail his first 3 giving the Suns a 28-27 lead. Two possessions later, Galloway was able to draw a foul on a missed 3, becoming his specialty.
The Suns are looking good in the 1st quarter leading 34-32. Lookout for the defense to pick up in the second.
End of 1Q: PHX 34, DEN 32— Gerald Bourguet (@GeraldBourguet) January 2, 2021
Bridges: 9 Pts, 3-3 3P
Ayton: 6 Pts, 3-5 FG
Galloway: 6 Pts in 2 min
Murray: 14 Pts, 6-7 FG
Suns: 7-12 3P
Frank Kaminski looks to be filling those Saric minutes tonight but not by doing too much but just enough. Suns up 45-37, the Nuggets call timeout after Galloway gets the second chance bucket to go down from 3. After Franks offensive board. 9 points from Galloway.
Ayton was able to put together an and-1 giving the Suns a 13 point lead. 11 points from Ayton as he squared up Jokic, draining the shot in his face.
Suns lead 60-49 at the half behind, well... almost the whole team. A group effort in moving the ball, launching the 3, and rebounding the ball as a team.
Jamal Murray, now with 20 points bring the Nuggets within 6 with a couple big shots. The run has started, can the Suns get their lead back to double digits?
A couple plays later, Ayton helps the Suns push that lead back to 10.
He wants the DAMN BALL. Love to see it.— John Voita (@DarthVoita) January 2, 2021
With six minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the Suns are up 74-66. The objective would be to hold Murray from getting hot to help the Nuggets tie the game.
Booker gets his 15th point by finding his shot and getting to his spots as he starts to take over on offense.
Uh oh. Book is pissed. Watch out.— John Voita (@DarthVoita) January 2, 2021
The Nuggets are looking to give up already as the Suns take a 87-71 lead after a Booker 3.
The 3rd quarter was a hard one to close out after careless turnovers and fouls after Jokic was called for his 5th foul. The lead is only 9 for the Suns 87-78 going into the 4th.
Looking tired in the 4th, the Suns shots are falling short. The second wind needs to come in order to beat a struggling Nuggets team. Jokic is back in and rested and looking to take over.
Murray starting to take over as he helps the Nuggets take the late lead 98-97. It is a struggle to find a good shot for the Suns, who will make the big shots?
Booker with big shots and a big turnover cancel each other out as the Suns try to hold on to a 2 point lead with 31 seconds left in the game.
The big shot tonight goes to Chris Paul who gives the Suns a 104-100 lead with 7 seconds left.