The Nuggets offense started off nearly perfect, scoring on nearly every possession they had in the first four minutes of the game. Jamal Murray started things off with a smooth midrange jumper and KCP pitched in with a three pointer and an and-1. Michael Porter Jr. also got downhill off a dribble handoff with Nikola Jokic to get his first points of the night on a dunk. The defense didn’t get off to the same start though, with the Suns scoring 5 of their first 8 shots and scoring at the rim pretty well. Phoenix took a timeout after the KCP and-1 though and gave the Nuggets an early break.
After the timeout, the Nuggets’ starters started finding some separation after getting into the passing lanes and generating points in transition which got the lead all the way up to 11. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope kept scoring, having three 3 pointers by them time he checked out of his first stint. Nikola Jokic also found Aaron Gordon on a crazy no-look pass. However, the Suns made shots and found their way back to within 3 before the Nuggets called a timeout.
The Nuggets stopped making rotations that were as crisp as they were to start the game and had to lock back in with the bench coming in after the timeout. They did that a bit, with Bones Hyland providing some support on offense scoring 5 points on 3 shots in the first quarter. The defense did get a bit better, but still needed some improvement as the Suns were getting a lot of offense from Josh Okogie who had 9 points on 4 shots. The Nuggets led by 6 after the first frame.
The Nuggets started the second quarter with big minutes from the bench. Jamal Murray was especially impressive — he started the quarter by forcing an 8 second violation, then a 3 pointer on the other end. His playmaking was also on display with him hooking up Zeke Nnaji with a dime for a dunk. The bench kept the train rolling and on the last possession before a Phoenix timeout they got two offensive rebounds and finally saw the ball drop with a Bones Hyland 3. The crowd got loud after that one and Phoenix had to recoup.
The starters subbed back in, sans Jamal Murray who came out after being the stagger, and kept laying it on the Suns. Bones Hyland and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope both went 4-4 from beyond the arc and every single point that was being scored could be felt in Ball Arena. The Suns had a tough time finding anything on offense, and the Nuggets’ lead kept ballooning. It got up to 22 at one point after Bones hit another 3 to be 5-5 from beyond the arc in the first half.
The Nuggets finished the first half up by 16 and were led by Bones Hyland in scoring at 17 on 6-8 from the field. Jamal Murray and him did a good job of anchoring the bench unit which are them and three competitors. The Nuggets have found a way to do well with the bench. Nikola Jokic had 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 15. The Nuggets were rolling.
Some might say Bizzy is in his bag pic.twitter.com/7FjJWSag9J— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) January 12, 2023
The Nuggets came out of half and kept the scoring coming. AG, Joker, and MPJ all got dunks for the Nuggets’ first 3 buckets of the half before the Suns called an early timeout. The Nuggets continued to roll though and MPJ hit a pair of 3s. He kept looking for his shot, but couldn’t find it too well after that. Nikola Jokic got going though and the Nuggets kept scoring. MPJ did do a good job of defending Mikal Bridges though and was impacting the other areas of the game.
The bench checked in sans Joker and Murray which kept things moving until the Nuggets went up 31, 100-69, and the Suns called a timeout. Joker checked out with 21 points, 18 rebounds, and 9 assists. He demolished the Suns in every facet of the game. The Nuggets finished the quarter up 100-75 and carried a 25 point lead into the final frame.
The fourth quarter was a blow out, the only notable thing that happened was Jamal Murray sustaining an ankle sprain. The Nuggets win 126-97 and keep things rolling.