The Denver Nuggets are an entertaining team with the NBA MVP at center and owners of the third-best record in the West. But they're just not 100%, and some days, that's going to be very clear.
Wednesday was one of those days.
The Phoenix Suns steamrolled the Nuggets 123-98 on Wednesday to take a 2-0 series lead in the Western Conference semifinals. The Suns led for the final 47 minutes of the game, and took complete control in the third quarter.
By the end of the game, Suns fans were chanting "Suns in four."
Every Suns starter scored in double figures, though the star of the night was Chris Paul, who had 17 points, 15 assists, five rebounds and zero turnovers. Here is what one of those assists looked like:
The Suns' other most important player was Deandre Ayton, who, in addition to posting 15 points and 10 rebounds, faced off against Nikola Jokic for most of the night. The NBA MVP finished with 24 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, but keeping him under 30 points was all the Suns needed for an easy win when you consider his supporting cast.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone calls out team
Outside of Jokic, Denver was a bit of a mess. Michael Porter Jr., who tweaked his back in Game 1, shot a rough 3-of-13 (2-of-9 from deep on his way to 11 points. As a team, the non-Jokic Nuggets shot 37% from the field.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone did not hold back after the game:
"I thought one team wanted to be here and play with a purpose and urgency, and one team did not want to be here and play with no urgency, and that's why we got our a**es kicked."
"The reason that their crowd is yelling "Suns in four" and they're calling for a sweep, because if we play like this back in Denver, this is going to be a really quick series."
On the bright side, Will Barton returned to the court from a hamstring injury that had kept him out since April 23, but a minutes limit kept him to 10 points and three assists.
It's hard to say any series involving the Nuggets is over after what we saw last year, but it's hard not to see them as a team with its back against the wall. Jamal Murray, out with a torn ACL, obviously isn't walking through that door. P.J. Dozier, another guard in the Denver rotation has been out with an abductor strain the entire playoffs as well, though he could be back this series.
Game 3 is scheduled for 10 p.m. ET on Friday in Denver.
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