The Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns got Game 3 started with a flurry of points for both sides, and it was clear that this was not going to be a repeat of Game 2 with both sides shooting at a high rate in the first quarter. Devin Booker had 18 of the team’s 29 points in the first period, and Jamal Murray was rolling as well with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting in the first. Denver was leading 31-29 at the end of the first quarter, but their lead should have been larger. They were struggling with turnovers as they had five in the first period.

The Nuggets started the second quarter with a couple of baskets, but they went cold a few minutes in. The Suns were on a 14-2 run that had gone over the course of four minutes, and they were leading by as many as nine with just over five minutes remaining in the half. A Booker triple with 4:45 remaining give him 25 points in the first half and prompted a timeout from the Nuggets. The Suns were getting a very friendly whistle in Game 3, and they were using it to attack the basket. The entire team was making shots from just about everywhere on the floor, and they were leading by as many as 16 late in the half. Durant and Booker scored 48 of the team’s 67 points, and they were leading 67-52 at the half with the team shooting 53.1 percent from the floor in the first half.

After nearly getting run off the floor at the end of the first half, the Nuggets came out firing to start the third quarter. They had gotten to within one with just over 5:30 remaining following hot shooting on defense along with some strong rebounding on the defensive end. The argument could be made that multiple people were to blame for the Suns’ offensive issues, but you couldn’t blame Booker, who was up to 32 points on 14-of-18 shooting. After Denver briefly took a one-point lead around the four-minute mark, the two sides traded buckets back and forth through the rest of the period. Denver was trailing 90-88 with 12 minutes left in this one.

The Suns started the fourth with a triple with multiple empty possessions by the Nuggets on the other end, and they were on a 14-0 run dating back to the third quarter when Bruce Brown got to the line for a pair of free throws. Booker had been playing for much of the second half with four personal fouls and, after not being called for a charge on one possession, he was called for an offensive foul on the next possession. He would be navigating the remaining eight minutes of the game with five fouls. The Suns had a decent lead, and they were trading baskets with Denver down the home stretch. The Nuggets were within seven, but they were struggling to get any closer than that despite Booker sitting on the bench. Michael Porter Jr. hit his fifth 3-pointer of the night to make it a six-point game with just over four minutes remaining. Jokic matched a bucket from Durant, and he completed the 3-point play at the line to make it a five-point game with three minutes to go. Denver’s light was continuing to fade down the stretch. Every time they would get a shot to fall, the Suns would match with a shot of their own. The Nuggets’ comeback came up short in this one, and they would fall by a final score of 121-114.

Stat Leaders

Points: Jamal Murray – 32

Assists: Nikola Jokic – 17

Rebounds: Jokic – 17

Player of the Game: Nikola Jokic – 28 points, 17 assists, 17 rebounds, 10-of-18 field goal, 1-of-2 3-point, 7-of-8 free throw