The Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns came out looking to put up some big-time points in this one. For Phoenix, as it had been through the first three games, it was a heavy dose of the stars in Kevin Durant and Devin Booker. For Denver, the scoring was a little more staggered across the team’s roster, which makes sense considering their depth advantage across the starting five. At the end of the first, the Nuggets were carrying a decent lead, but a late run by the Suns in the final minute made it a two-point game with Denver leading 34-32.

To start the second quarter, there were a lot of reserves on the floor for both sides, but Durant and the Suns were getting the better of things as they took their first lead since the 6:10 mark about 3:30 into the second quarter. With the game basically knotted up, the two sides were trading blows the remainder of the way. Booker continued to have his way on the offensive end, and Nikola Jokic was doing the same. Jokic and Murray had combined for 37 of the team’s 61 points, and Booker and KD had combined for 40 of Phoenix’s 63. Whichever team found a third scorer first was likely going to come away with a win in this one.

In the third quarter, it was a fireworks display from Jokic and Booker. It looked as though neither guy planned on missing the rest of the night. The two sides were trading blows and runs all throughout the period, and neither team was able to gain an inch of separation. That was until late in the period when Booker went to that next level of offensive firepower that he had shown throughout these playoffs with a pair of triples to lead a run in the final minute of the quarter. Phoenix was leading 98-92 at the end of the third period with one quarter left to tie the series at two games a piece.

In the fourth quarter, the Nuggets had Jokic on the bench, and it appeared early on that the Suns were going to do what we’ve seen teams do to the Nuggets a few times this year. They were going to have someone other than their stars get hot for a few possessions, and that was going to make the game a lot more difficult. For now, it was Landry Shamet hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Suns an eight-point lead with under eight minutes remaining. Shamet hit his fourth and fifth triples of the night over the next couple of minutes, and the Suns were leading 116-106 with just under five minutes left in the game. Shamet was now up to 17 points on the night, which was three more points than he had scored in the team’s previous eight playoff games combined.

Coming out of a timeout, Denver got five quick points to silence the crowd, but a huge triple from Durant got the crowd way up on their feet. Jokic answered with a tough jumper that turned into a 3-point play at the line and things were getting really tight in the final minutes. Denver was down by three with less than a minute remaining, and they had the ball. A rare loose ball from Jokic turned into a jump ball that ended up in the hands of Phoenix, and it looked like we were heading back to Denver tied at two games. Phoenix hung on to win by a score of 129-124 despite a 53-point game from Jokic due in large part to the 3-point shooting of Landry Shamet, whose five made triples were two fewer than the Nuggets made as a team.

Stat Leaders

Points: Nikola Jokic – 53

Assists: Nikola Jokic – 10

Rebounds: Michael Porter Jr. – 4

Player of the Game: Nikola Jokic – 53 points, 10 assists, 4 rebounds, 20-of-30 field goal, 2-of-4 3-point, 11-of-13 free throw