Coming out of the All-Star break, the Suns needed to make every game count in their quest to clinch a spot in the playoffs. Their first test was visiting the short-handed Nuggets in Denver. Though it took extra time, the Suns claimed the W by a score of 112-107.
The Suns jumped ahead early, leading 21-7 at one point, but by halftime, they led by one. The Nuggets then overtook the Suns and held it heading into the final seconds. However, heroics from several Suns players. With 35 seconds left and trailing by five, Dragic hit Frye on the perimeter for three. After Denver missed, Phoenix called a timeout. Frye got the ball with just under eight seconds and took the game-tying jumper, but was off target. Out of almost nowhere, P.J. Tucker swooped in and slammed the ball off the glass, allowing Markieff Morris to grab it and put it back.
In OT, the challenge of playing Denver’s high altitude caught up to the players, who committed several turnovers. The last nineteen seconds were a typical foul fest, but the Suns hit the shots they needed to get the victory.
Gerald Green was on fire, dropping a career-high 36 points, including a powerful trio of a dunk, alley-oop, and putback. Goran Dragic embraced his inner distributor, adding 21 points and 14assists. There was a point when the Suns had eight three in the second half and the Dragon assisted on all eight. P.J. Tucker added 13 points and 12 rebounds, including clutch plays like the aforementioned rebound assist and getting a jumpball in OT with several Nuggets surrounding him.
The Suns played excellent perimeter defense, limiting Denver to 5-28 shooting from beyond the arc. Both teams shot under 40% from the filed and both shot a large amount of free throws (37 for the Suns, 35 for the Nuggets). It was a testament to the Suns grit and energy that they managed to play for 50 minutes and never back down. That kind of effort nis something the Suns display nearly every night, and it is one of the main reasons they sit at 31-21.
The Suns now jump to the sixth seed with a loss by the Dallas Mavericks tonight. They won’t get much time to recover, as they host Rajon Rondo and the Boston Celtics tomorrow night.