Phoenix dropped a tough one. There’s no way around it. Botched calls late in the game, costly turnovers, unnecessary challenges, not calling a timeout with 2 seconds left. Pin it on whatever you want, it’s a brutal overtime loss for Phoenix.
The 2018 draft class duo of Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges kicked the game off strong, combining for Phoenix’s first nine points. Devin Booker missed his first three shots, only to hit his next three and regain a bit of a rhythm.
Ayton had 8 points and 5 rebounds in his first 8 minutes of play, and made an impressive bully ball backdown move against Jokic early on to set the tone.
The first 24 points of the game (by Phoenix) were all scored by Ayton, Booker and Bridges.
Booker finished with 13 points in the 1st quarter, and was at his best when attacking per usual. He had this insane finish:
Book brought his A-game tonight— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) January 23, 2021
13 points in the first quarter! pic.twitter.com/jE0cDHYDEh
Abdel Nader made a couple purposeful, hard drives that resulted in buckets and Frank had a couple decent moments, but overall this (somewhat) new-look bench with Saric out and Crowder in for Johnson struggled to find a groove.
Bridges continued his hot start with a rapid trio of triples and was 5-for-5 from deep leading a Suns starting unit that looked like it was finally starting to click.
Chris Paul led the charge with 14 assists in the first half alone with zero turnovers including this nice lob to the big fella.
CHRIS PAUL HAD 14 ASSISTS IN THE FIRST HALF pic.twitter.com/QM6eDVmrDa— ESPN (@espn) January 23, 2021
The Suns entered the half with a 68-54 lead and shot 11-for-25 (44.0%) from three point range.
Cam Johnson kicked off the 2nd half draining a corner three that boosted the Suns lead to 14. Denver then responded with a 6-0 run to cut the Phoenix lead down to 8, leading to a timeout from Monty Williams.
Mikal Bridges hit a crucial three after the Nuggets cut the lead down to 5 to take him to 6-for-6 shooting from deep. Gary Harris made a pair of and-ones to bring Denver right back into things and cut the Phoenix lead to 3 points.
Ayton continued to play engaged with a high motor attacking the offensive glass and running the floor consistency throughout the third.
Heading into the 4th quarter Denver cut the lead down to just 4 points and regained some momentum.
Both teams came out flat to start the 4th quarter until Denver went on a mini-run led by their defense to pull ahead by 1. It was a back and forth affair and this chase down block by Devin Booker that led to a lob for Ayton on the other end proved to be a critical 4-point swing.
Denver somehow had a successful overturn that took away a three point play from Devin Booker after a Gary Harris flop. There was objectively not conclusive evidence to overturn yet they swiped it away which led to a Denver bucket and a critical potential 5-point swing.
they really REWARDED the flop pic.twitter.com/aOyOjpaghR— Matt Petersen (@TheMattPetersen) January 23, 2021
Chris Paul made three huge buckets down the stretch to shift some of the momentum back in Phoenix’s favor.
The game wound up deadlocked and went to overtime after a series of chaotic events and a missed opportunity for a timeout at the end of the game for the final shot. Denver went on to close it out after Devin Booker went down with an apparent injury that we’ll learn more on in the coming hours.
Monty Williams said it was a hamstring injury for Devin Booker. Said they probably won't have him tomorrow night when looking ahead on another answer.— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) January 23, 2021
Star of the game
Deandre Ayton: 27 points, 13 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 assist on 11-of-13 shooting.
Up next: Suns vs. Nuggets round 2, tomorrow at 7 P.M.