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Recap: Denver Nuggets get blown out by the Phoenix Suns in Game 2

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NBA: Playoffs-Denver Nuggets at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets got Game 2 against the Phoenix Suns started early with an easy bucket from Nikola Jokic that was quickly matched by Jae Crowder. Michael Porter Jr. missed a pair of jumpers before Crowder hit a triple from the left wing. The Nuggets had gone scoreless following their first make, and a Devin Booker triple stretched the Phoenix lead to six. Jokic finally ended the Nuggets’ dry spell with a floater in the paint, but no one else could score as Porter was 0-of-4 to start the game. Chris Paul and Aaron Gordon traded quick buckets.

Jokic was fouled by Deandre Ayton on an attempt at the rim, and that was his second personal foul with less than five minutes off of the game clock after having just one in Game 1. Jokic went 2-of-2 at the line, but Mikal Bridges immediately matched him. Ayton was sent to the line and went 1-of-2. Austin Rivers got to the rim for a layup after blowing by Crowder. Bridges hit a tough jumper over the outstretched hand of Porter.

The two sides traded misses before Gordon got to the rim for an easy dunk, but Ayton was there to match it as the Suns had been throughout the first quarter. Porter missed his fifth straight shot to start the game, but a tip-in by Jokic had the Nuggets down by three at a score of 14-17 with 4:00 remaining. Booker drilled another triple over Monte Morris out of a Suns’ timeout, and JaMychal Green threw down a dunk on the other end.

Cameron Payne got to the cup for a layup, but Will Barton announced his presence with a huge dunk for his points in the playoffs. Down by four, Barton blocked Cam Johnson off the backboard before Paul Millsap saved a possession for the Nuggets by throwing a ball off the back of Johnson on the other end. With that extra possession, Barton scored Denver’s first 3-point bucket of the night, but Dario Saric hit one of his own. Denver had a couple of possessions to end the quarter down by four, but they failed to convert and were headed to the second quarter trailing 21-25.

Coming out to start the second quarter, the Suns found Cam Johnson on the wing for another 3-point make. Millsap answered with a layup off of an offensive rebound. Denver had yet to turn the ball over before a steal by the Suns which quickly turned into a two-point make. A block by Millsap gave Denver an extra possession, but he was quickly called for a foul when he attempted to back down Saric on the block.

Barton hit a turn-around jumper to give Denver a bit of a spark after a quiet couple of minutes. Porter was called for a foul when Paul went up for a jumper, and CP3 went 2-of-2 at the line. The two sides traded misses, but a Saric triple stretched the Phoenix lead to 10 and forced a quick timeout by the Nuggets. Coming out of the timeout, Barton found Rivers on the left wing for a triple of his own. Denver was giving the ball away regularly with five turnovers in the quarter, but the defense was helping to answer the ball forcing multiple misses before Gordon got to the rim for a layup.

Porter was forced into a difficult shot late in the clock, and it ended up becoming a transition opportunity for Booker who got fouled heading to the cup and went 2-of-2 at the line. Jokic got those two points right back with beautiful series of moves in the lane. The Suns were called for a pair of fouls, and Porter finally got his first basket from 18 feet. The only problem with that was Booker hit an and-one jumper on the other end which had the Phoenix lead at eight. Booker jumped a passing lane for a big steal and dunk before Facundo Campazzo hit Denver’s third 3-point shot of the night. Bridges knocked down a pair of free throws, but Jokic drilled a big 3-point bomb from the top of the key.

Paul found Ayton for an acrobatic layup, but Jokic answered with an easy jumper from the free-throw line. Paul’s mid-range shooting from Game 1 continued with a jumper over Porter to give the Suns an eight-point lead. Porter fouled Bridges with 7.3 seconds remaining in the half, and a pair of free throws made it a 52-42 game heading into halftime after a late Facu shot came up short.

The Suns started the second half with a triple from Crowder after a long rebound gave them an extra possession. Jokic appeared to be fouled, but there was no call before Ayton drew a foul of his own at the other end in transition and went 2-of-2 at the line. Rivers was sent to the line at the other end, but he went just 1-of-2 at the charity stripe. Crowder hit another 3-pointer to stretch the lead to 17, and Michael Malone quickly called a timeout.

Jokic failed to score out of the timeout, and Ayton immediately threw down a huge alley-oop dunk. Porter hit his first triple of the night as the Nuggets were looking to claw their way back from the huge deficit, but a triple from Bridges wasn’t going to get the job done. Downy by 19, Jokic got to the line for a pair of free throws, but Ayton grabbed a rebound away from Jokic and scored two points. Gordon and Crowder were called for a pair of technical fouls, and a Phoenix triple stretched the lead to 21 with Denver fading fast.

Coming out of a timeout, Morris hit a huge triple, but Booker hit a two-point jumper from the elbow before Barton hit a 3-pointer of his own. Denver forced a miss out of Bridges, and Jokic got to the rim for a layup. An Ayton layup wiped out those two points, but Jokic hit another runner from 10-feet. The two sides traded misses before Paul found Booker on the wing for a huge 3-point make. Bridges got to the rim in transition for a dunk, and the Nuggets were called for a technical foul after a ball was spiked in frustration.

A Jokic make had Denver within 20, but they had no answer for Phoenix on the defensive end with another easy bucket for Ayton. Jokic was fouled and made it a 20-point deficit at the line, but they had just 61 points with nearly the entire third quarter gone. Torrey Craig tipped in a miss. Millsap drilled a triple, but Payne immediately hit one of his own. Millsap hit a final triple to make it 67-86 heading into the final quarter.

Payne was called for a foul on Millsap to start the fourth, and Millsap proceeded to go 0-of-2 at the stripe. Paul promptly made them pay with another mid-range jumper. Porter went 1-of-2 at the line, but Craig nailed a corner triple which made it a 23-point lead for the Suns. Porter got to the line again, and he was 2-of-2 on this trip. Millsap was put on skates by Paul which turned into a two-point bucket for Phoenix before Craig was fouled on a layup in transition that he managed to roll in before converting the 3-point play at the line to stretch the lead to 26.

A Porter triple had him up to 11, but the lead looked to be insurmountable at this stage, especially with Jokic still on the sideline and Paul knocking down contested 3-point jumpers. Green threw down a dunk under the rim, and Paul hit another 3-point shot which had Phoenix’s lead to 27 with 8:35 to go. Millsap hit a triple out of the Nuggets’ timeout before Green forced a miss out of Craig.

Denver was called for three fouls in approximately 20 seconds, and the Suns were leading by 25 with 6:51 remaining as the two sides were prepping to empty their benches. Johnson knocked down another three, and Bridges hit one to make the lead 31 with 6:05 remaining to drive the final nail into the coffin for the Nuggets in Game 2. Markus Howard scored his first points of the game with a deep triple followed by a quick layup.

Zeke Nnaji drilled a triple, and the Nuggets’ offense looked the best that it had through two games. While these minutes meant nothing for the final outcome of the game, some of the younger players were going to get some run to help them build for the remainder of the series and moving forward in their career. In three minutes, the bench had gotten the deficit down to 20 before a Frank Kaminsky triple and an E’Twaun Moore layup made it 25. Denver’s largest loss of the season was 24 in a blowout by the Toronto Raptors, but it became 24 after getting thumped 123-98 by the Suns.

Stat Leaders

Points: Nikola Jokic - 24

Assists: Jokic - 6

Rebounds: Jokic - 13

Player of the Game: Nikola Jokic 24 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 9-of-17 field goal, 1-of-3 3-point, 5-of-6 free throw