Durant, Paul pace the Phoenix Suns in victory over short-handed Nuggets

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images) /

Pushed by a mostly backup Denver Nuggets team, two of Phoenix’s big three delivered in a 119-115 win as the Suns continue playoff preparations

The Phoenix Suns handled an undermanned Denver Nuggets team at home for the second time in less than a week. It was an off night for Devin Booker and an average night for Kevin Durant, but a career-high seven three-pointers from Chris Paul made the difference as the Suns topped the Nuggets.

Booker has had better outings for Phoenix

Maybe the biggest headline for Phoenix was that the DBook had an off-game. Shooting just 3 of 12 from the field, his 25% FG% was his lowest of the season. Likewise, his three-made buckets were his lowest this season, aside from his four-minute cameo on Christmas Day when Book left injured, the Suns lost to the Nuggets 128-125.

Unfortunately for the Nuggets and fortunately for the Suns, this new version of Phoenix is more well-equipped to handle an off night from our number one.

Career-night for Chris Paul, doing something new with the Suns

When you have been in the league for 17 years, there are not many nights left for setting career highs; however, that is exactly what CP3 did on Thursday at Footprint Center. Paul hit seven three-pointers in 12 attempts (58.3%) while playing more off-the-ball basketball.

Paul’s efficiency as a spot-up shooter – something the point guard has not done much in his career – adds a new wrinkle to an already dynamic Suns offensive attack. Against the Nuggets, Paul’s 25 points helped make up for an uncharacteristic off-night for DBook.

Heavy minutes for the big names as Williams is preparing for the playoffs

If there was a downside to the Suns’ victory, while Nikola Jokic was sitting on the bench resting his legs, four of Phoenix’s five starters were logging big minutes. Durant had 29 points to lead the Suns but did it over 40 minutes, the most he has played in a Phoenix uniform.

Likewise, both Booker and Paul played 37 minutes each, and Deandre Ayton (16 pts) played 31. Monty Wiliams still played 12 players, but only three bench players logged double-digit minutes – Torrey Craig (22), Terrence Ross (15), and Bismack Biyombo (11).

It was a disappointing night for Cameron Payne, the first substitute after being a DNP in the previous game. Payne had only two points but did manage three assists in just seven minutes of basketball.

Overall, the bench scored only 29 points, being outscored by the Nuggets bench by five. Craig was the only bench player to high double-figures with 11 points, although Ross shot well, 3 of 4, scoring eight points.

The win was the seventh straight for Phoenix and 45th in the season with just two games remaining against Los Angeles teams. The Suns play the Lakers Friday evening in LA and then close the season Sunday against the Clippers. Either team could be the Suns’ opponent in the opening round, although it could as easily be the Warriors or Pelicans.

Next. Potential playoff foes for the Phoenix Suns. dark