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Recap: The reserves execute in crunch time to give Denver the 107-105 victory over the Suns

The Nuggets grab their first preseason victory of the season thanks to great clutch play from newcomer Ish Smith

NBA: Preseason-Phoenix Suns at Denver Nuggets Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets won their first preseason game of this young season with a nail-biting finish. They conquer the Suns 107-105 as Ish Smith knocked down two mid-range jumpers in the final minute of the game. With Jokic, Murray, Gordon, and KCP out tonight, the reserves shouldered more responsibility and they executed late in the game with great energy to come out with the victory.

Bones (16) and Ish Smith (17) were the high scorers for Denver as Devin Booker led the game in scoring with 20. Denver’s lone starter Michael Porter Jr. struggled tonight, scoring 9 points on 2-11 shooting and multiple turnovers. Denver’s new additions Ish Smith and Bruce Brown appeared to be the game-changers tonight. Brown had 12 points on 4-9 shooting from the field and 2-5 from three along with stifling defense all night. Denver’s next preseason game will be against the Clippers on Wednesday at 8:30 PM MT.


1st Quarter

  • Two minutes of scoreless basketball went by before MPJ got fouled on a three-point attempt. He knocked down two of three free throws, but it was soon answered with two threes from Bridges and Paul
  • Bones would then knock down a mid-range jumper, but Ayton’s hook shot gave the Suns an early 8-4 lead. Jeff Green then hit a floater, but it would again be answered with a Suns basket via Devin Booker
  • Bruce Brown scored his first points of the game with a three. Following an Ayton floater, the Nuggets scored four in a row to take a 14-13 lead, but Booker erased the advantage with a three
  • Both teams then entered an offensive hot streak. Bones scored five in a row along with a Brown triple, and Ayton dropped four in a row coupled with a Bridges three
  • After an Ish Smith layup, Bridges answered with another three for the 27-25 Phoenix lead. MPJ knocked in his first shot of the game with a three, but Duane Washington Jr. countered with a three of his own

Score: 35-30 Suns

Scoring leaders: Hyland - 9, Ayton - 8

2nd Quarter

  • Phoenix grabbed their largest lead 37-30 thanks to more bad Denver transition defense. Braun then attacked the rim with a floater for his first points of the contest, and Ish Smith drilled a three to climb within five
  • Vlatko Cancar nailed another three for Denver, but Damion Lee responded with an and-one layup. Braun and Hyland then combined for five in a row to decrease the Phoenix advantage 45-44
  • MPJ followed a Suns timeout with a transition dunk, but then Ayton hit a tough fadeaway through tight Denver defense. Denver then forced two Phoenix turnovers, thanks to great pick-and-roll defense from Bruce Brown
  • The Nuggets picked up the pace late in the quarter and scored multiple points in transition. Bruce Brown threw a great bounce pass to Jeff Green for a two-handed slam
  • A DeAndre Jordan and-one gave the Nuggets a slight lead until Ayton answered with a dunk to tie it at 51. Bridges and Ayton scored two separate and-one layups out of a Denver timeout to go on a mini 8-0 scoring run
  • Bones answered two Booker free throws with a deep three from the top of the key to end the quarter

Score: 59-54 Suns

Scoring leaders: Ayton - 15, Bones - 14

3rd Quarter

  • Phoenix introduced the quarter with an Ayton hook shot and a Booker dunk as they grabbed their largest lead 63-54. Bruce Brown drove to the rack for a layup following a Denver timeout, and Bones hit two free throws to get within five
  • Ish Smith hit a nice mid-range bucket, and then Brown continued his aggressive play toward the rim as he got fouled for two free throws. Brown then added another layup, but Craig countered with a three
  • Booker drained a corner triple and a driving layup for the 76-69 lead. Braun and Uncle Jeff combined for four in a row to cut the lead to three until Bridges backed Ish down for an easy layup
  • After two Paul free throws, Ish connected on two consecutive mid-range jumpers to get within three

Score: 81-78 Suns

Scoring leaders: Booker - 20, Hyland - 16

4th Quarter

  • Landale and Cancar matched baskets, and then Nnaji converted on a tip shot off a Bruce Brown miss. Lee then knocked in a three, but Braun quickly answered with a floater
  • Nnaji helped the Nuggets get within one with a three from the top of the key, and then Davon Reed tied the game with one of two free throws
  • Okogie scored on a beautiful post move, but then Reed gave the Nuggets a 92-91 lead with a three, but Washington Jr. tied it back up with a mid-range jumper
  • Ish’s one of two free throws helped take the lead back, and he took a great charge on defense which led to a Cancar three
  • Wainright and Watson matched baskets for both teams to put the score at 100-95. Jock Landale immediately drilled a three following a Denver timeout, and then Luwawu-Cabarrot and Landale scored four in a row as Phoenix grabbed the two-point lead
  • Jack White hit a layup after a timeout, but it was answered with a Washington Jr. three. Cancar then hit one of two free throws, and then Ish gave Denver the lead with two sweet mid-range jumpers with eight seconds to go

Score: 107-105 Nuggets

Scoring leaders: Booker - 20, Smith - 17

Stat leaders

Points: Booker - 20

Rebounds: Ayton - 11

Assists: Paul - 8

Plus/minus: Cancar +8