Phoenix Suns show they have stomach for fight in statement win

It took overtime, but the Phoenix Suns beat the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday to show they have the stomach for a fight for postseason positioning.

Phoenix Suns v Denver Nuggets
Phoenix Suns v Denver Nuggets / Jamie Schwaberow/GettyImages

The unpredictable nature of the 2023-24 Phoenix Suns season continued in earnest on Tuesday, with a statement overtime win over the Denver Nuggets away from home. Behind a team high 35 points from Kevin Durant, the Suns were able to outlast the defending champions.

To do so without their talisman Devin Booker was even more impressive, and the latest on when he could return from the ankle sprain he suffered last week was encouraging. It can feel hard to believe given the up and down season the Suns have had - but as mentioned on the TNT broadcast - the Suns still have the fifth best odds to win a championship this season.

In order to do so they are going to need many more games like this one - but if nothing else - it showed they have the stomach for a fight from here on out.

It started in the middle for the Suns in this win, with center Jusuf Nurkic doing a pretty good job of containing superstar Nikola Jokic. You're never going to keep him quiet - and if anything he is at his best when setting up others anyway - but Nurkic battled hard and had an impact against the player who the Denver Nuggets chose over him seven years ago.

Nurkic also handled the ball some in the absence of Booker which was surprising, but also allowed Grayson Allen and Royce O'Neale to move about the court and get open looks. Given that they combined for 36 points (Allen had a hugely impressive 28), head coach Frank Vogel did a good job of creating a game plan without their lead ball-handler.

There was a period late in the first-quarter where the Suns went with Nurkic, Durant, Bol Bol, Saben Lee and Eric Gordon as their five out on the court. It was clunky and there was far too much of Lee with the ball in hand, not to mention Bol struggling to have an impact, but it represented another look for opponents to deal with.

Gordon might be loudest player in the league when he feels contact, but the five was much bigger than the Nuggets which once again allowed Bol to do his best work away from the basket. He stuck to Christian Braun for much of his time with this particular group - and although Braun is hardly a go-to player for the Nuggets - keeping him quiet did help the Suns remain competitive.

Make no mistake, Bol is still not a good defender and he is not a good rebounder given his size. But the above video illustrates that he can still have a use for coach Vogel on the defensive end when given the opportunity. Best of all, even though Bol wasn't as impactful as he has been recently, he still made it difficult for the Nuggets to get into full flow.

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Thaddeus Young - a buyout pickup a few weeks back - but Drew Eubanks and David Roddy both saw some action. Eubanks has his critics, but his 10 points and rebounds in 23 minutes were helpful in getting the Suns over the line. In the coming weeks we will see coach Vogel begin to settle on a playoff rotation, and there are still plenty of players who are putting their hands up for selection.

This was a game the Suns had to win - and at 36-26 and clinging onto the sixth spot in the Western Conference - the manner in which they did so was impressive. They went 10 deep without Booker, and each player was up to the challenge of mixing it with one of the best teams in the league. As the regular season games begin to run out, it was the kind of performance and win the Suns needed.