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Game 2 Final: Suns barbecue the Nuggets, cruise to victory, 123-98

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The Phoenix Suns lambasted the Denver Nuggets, taking a 2-0 series lead in the second round of the 2021 Playoffs

2021 NBA Playoffs - Denver Nuggets v Phoenix Suns Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

The Suns home crowd was crazy good again, propping up a cold-shooting Suns team with a burst of white hot energy, and by late in the second quarter this one turned into a blowout.

Suns led by 29 early in the fourth quarter before emptying the deep bench.

Phoenix absolutely destroyed the Denver Nuggets in Game 2, leaving all of this great nation wondering how this series will even go past four games. You know how the Nets blew the doors off the Bucks the other night? The Suns did much the same to the Nuggets in this one.

Chris Paul is back (17 points, 15 assists, 5 rebounds, 0 turnovers), Devin Booker has always been here (18 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists) and Deandre Ayton once again held his own against the league MVP (15 points, 10 rebounds).

By mid-fourth, with the Suns up 29, both teams were emptying the back end of their benches to ride out the clock.

The crowd was WILD once again, and the Suns delivered highlight after highlight to feed their frenzy.

Suns up 2-0 in the series.

On to Denver for Game 3 on Friday.


How it unfolded

Not a good start for Denver, who was supposed to come out firey. They missed 8 of their first 10 shots, and got down 8-2 before Jokic got in for his second score.

But then Deandre Ayton got his second foul just five minutes into the game. That’s the first time in eight playoff games he’s done this. First foul was a cheap one on Campazzo in transition, second one on a Jokic pump.

Monty left him in though, and Ayton got a foul call on the other end on Aaron Gordon on a hard roll. Love those hard rolls!

Ayton left a minute later to preserve his fouls, and Dario actually did an okay job out there for a few minutes!

Still, both teams missed more shots than they should have, and it was only 25-21 after one. Suns up, thanks to making 4/9 threes while Denver coughed up 1/13 on threes.

Big stat to watch: Denver got 7 more shots in the first quarter than the Suns off hustle but shot only 31% as a team (8% on threes). Suns really need to adjust on that part.

As the second quarter starts, Dario Saric gets another dunk! I swear the crazy arena fans have injected at least 2 more inches of hops into Dario’s ankles.

Then when Dario made his second three of the game to put the Suns up 35-25 he AND the crowd went absolutely nuts. I’ve never seen Dario look that happy. Has to be his best game in months unfolding right here in front of us.

Ayton returned soon after Jokic did, which was immediately after Dario put the Suns up 10.

The game remained a high-energy dogfight... neither team topped 37% shooting the half was almost over. Luckily for us, that team was the Suns (38.1%) as they went up 46-37 with 2:05 left in the half.

This seems weirdly like Game 2 last series, when the Lakers led 43-40 at half before taking control in the second half. But this time there’s no foul-drawing AD and on the other side there’s a healthier Chris Paul.

Suns lead 52-42 at half.

Leaders:

  • Devin Booker 13 points, 6 rebounds; Chris Paul 6 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds, and Mikal Bridges had 8 points (4 on free throws!); Suns 6-15 on threes, 41% shooting overall, 10-11 on free throws at half
  • Nikola Jokic 15 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists; Nuggets 4-22 on threes, 36% shooting overall, 2-2 free throws at half

Second Half

The Suns opened the second half with the ball and promptly worked it around to a Jae Crowder three. Next play: transition free throws for Ayton. Next play: Another Jae Crowder three.

Oh, have I mentioned that the Suns are hunting Michael Porter Jr. on defense? Porter opened on Crowder, and Crowder got both shots out of their set offense. Suns up 17. Timeout Nuggets.

Two minutes later, MPJ asked out. Maybe his back is hurting? (nah, he came back a few minutes later)

Two minutes after that, the Suns went up 21 and the crowd was cheering so loud my ears are starting to ring. It’s like a rock concert. Nuggets timeout.

Out of timeout, the Suns looked like they had a bit of a letdown, letting Denver score on four straight possessions and the lead got down to 15.

But then Devin Booker drained a three and Mikal Bridges had a driving dunk to put the Suns back up 20. (21 after a tech FT because Will Barton slammed the ball in frustration).

The lead got to 25 by early in the 4th and Torrey Craig got to show Denver what they are missing (they pulled his qualifying offer after last season). Craig had 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and a block in 11 minutes of this game. LOL.

After making a couple of break-back threes, Chris Paul left the game with the nifty stat line of 17 points, 15 assists, 5 rebounds and 0 turnovers.

The benches cleared with half the fourth quarter still to go, and the final score was all that was left to decide.

Suns win, 123-98