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Recap: Nuggets win bizarre game over Suns in overtime, 108-107

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Nikola Jokic picked up a triple-double, and the Nuggets barely managed to hold on in overtime against the Suns in the first game of the season in Pepsi Center.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Denver Nuggets Michael Ciaglo-USA TODAY Sports

In the end, it came down to a defensive stop.

After 48 minutes wasn’t enough time to declare a winner in the game between the Suns and the Nuggets, Torrey Craig, Malik Beasley, and Gary Harris stepped up in the final seconds of overtime to seal the Nuggets second win of the season.

Harris had a clutch steal against Frank Kaminsky, giving the Nuggets the ball back with 27 seconds, setting up Jamal Murray to hit the game-winning free throws. On the final possession of the game, Malik Beasley played a switch perfectly on Devin Booker, sliding over to contest the drive, keeping his arms up in a legal position to contest the shot, and giving Torrey Craig a chance to rotate over to deflect the shot attempt, finishing off the Suns, who never gave up at any point during the game.

Nikola Jokic finished with 23 points, 14 rebounds, and 12 assists, his first triple-double of the season, setting a personal best for fewest games played before registering a triple-double. Murray lead the team in scoring with 27 points, with some clutch free throws down the stretch. The Nuggets finished the game with 12 blocks, but none were more important than the final one of the game.

Kelly Oubre Jr. lead the Suns in scoring with 23 points, while Aron Baynes had 15 points and 7 rebounds in a start for the recently suspended DeAndre Ayton.

The Suns got going with a couple buckets from Kelly Oubre Jr., who was able to get free on cuts and get looks at the rim. Barton recovered from an isolation where he got pushed too far to the baseline by blocking Devin Booker on the other end. Jokic got his second basket of the game in the halfcourt offense, using his backside to push Dario Saric underneath the hoop, pivoting for an easy layup. The Suns were able to maintain a small lead, but the Nuggets forced Booker into two turnovers, and they were able to tie the game up at 12.

The reserves began trickling in for both teams, and the Nuggets defense had some confusion on scheme, allowing the Suns to go on a small run to take a seven point lead. Jerami Grant had a nice defensive possession, then had a huge dunk on the other end. That would be the only shot attempt the reserves made in the quarter (actually, that’s the only other field goal by someone not named Paul Millsap or Nikola Jokic). With just two assists, and a 20-percent field goal rate, it was a bad offensive quarter for the Nuggets.

The second quarter started off in similar fashion to how the first quarter ended, with the offense continuing to find a way to get shots to fall, despite getting open looks. Ricky Rubio started the quarter with the reserves, and was able to dissect the Nuggets defense, powering a run by finding his teammates for open shots and layups. Tyler Johnson hit a deep 3-pointer to stretch the lead to 13, but Jamal Murray answered with a nice stepback of his own after a Torrey Craig offensive rebound. Both teams had a stretch of sloppy play, missing shots and committing turnovers, but the choppy pace didn’t do the Nuggets any favors.

Will Barton had a nice block on Booker, but Murray wasn’t able to convert his 3-point attempt on the other end, and the momentum didn’t shift at all away from Phoenix. Gary Harris drew his second charge of the game, catching a shoulder from Rubio, but lost the ball a minute later driving into traffic. Millsap had a great drive in isolation against Baynes, getting the hoop and the harm, then helped the team force a couple misses by the Suns as they closed the half on a small run to close the deficit to six points, 45-39.

The Nuggets were able to carry their momentum from the end of the second quarter into the third quarter, closing to within two, 50-48, battling on defense to nearly even the score. Gary Harris had a nifty, acrobatic drive for a layup, and Millsap had a nice block on Dario Saric (again).

The Nuggets were able to tie the game up at 52, getting a block on defense that lead to a Gary Harris transition dunk. Harris got fouled by Booker on an inbounds play, giving the former Kentucky guard four fouls and sending him to the bench. Murray and Jokic ran a pick and roll, with the guard feeding the big for the hoop to give Denver a 57-55 lead. Jerami Grant smothered Frank Kaminsky, forcing an airball, then tried to jump into outer space on a reverse dunk, but the ball slipped out of his hands.

The Nuggets run petered out after a couple more baskets, and the Suns chipped in a couple baskets of their own. Jamal Murray had a couple nice shot attempts, but the team kind of tripped after running too fast (if you’ve ever seen someone run downhill, kind of looked like that). But Malik Beasley was able to throw down a dunk, and they finished the quarter with the lead, 64-62.

The Suns started the fourth with a smaller lineup, with Booker, Rubio, Johnson, Bridges, and Kaminsky on the floor against the Nuggets reserves. Jerami Grant gave the Nuggets the lead again on a huge putback dunk, flying in from the weakside to clean up a missed Torrey Craig jumper. Malik Beasley had back-to-back buckets, with the second coming from behind the 3-point line, to give the Nuggets a five point lead with seven minutes remaining in the game.

Jokic checked back in, and was able to get his first triple-double of the season with assists on back-to-back possessions, handing the ball to Beasley for a triple, and finding Grant on a cut to the basket for a layup. Coach Malone rode the hot hand, keeping Beasley on the court, and the young guard responded by pouring in shot after shot, padding the Nuggets lead into the final minutes of the game.

Beasley checked out with 17 points in 21 minutes, with most of those coming in the fourth quarter, and it was time for the Nuggets to close out the game. Murray split a pair of free throws, giving Devin Booker a chance to draw the game within one point ... which he did. Then, somehow, after two free throws by Murray, Beasley FOULED Rubio on a halfcourt shot ... which Rubio all made, sending the game to overtime.

The overtime period started off well for the Nuggets, with fouls being called on Baynes, Oubre, and Rubio, all three players having to take a seat after picking up their sixth foul. Murray hit back-to-back shots, but the Nuggets couldn’t defend without fouling, and they allowed the Suns to hang around. Jokic was able to get a post assist, finding Harris in the corner off a kickout, and the starting shooting guard hit the corner three to make the score 105-101.

That wasn’t the dagger though! The Nuggets gave up a layup out of a timeout to Dario Saric, Harris hit his free throws, then Tyler Johnson dropped in a floater. Murray had the second dumbest foul of the game after a Jokic miss, slapping Frank Kaminsky across the arms after a rebound, and the big man hit his free throws to give Phoenix a one-point lead. The Nuggets went to Jokic for the game-winner, but he missed two post shots, and Denver needed a stop. Gary Harris stonewalled Kaminsky in the post, stripping the ball away and getting the ball to Murray, who hit his free throws to make the score 108-107. On the final possession, Devin Booker tried to have the refs win the game, driving recklessly to his left, but Beasley stayed vertical, and Torrey Craig made a perfect rotation off the weak side, climbing the ladder for a block that sealed the game.