PHOENIX — Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone and ahead Aaron Gordon mentioned they performed comfortable of their Sport 1 loss.
They talked about responding. Being extra bodily. Extra aggressive.
Then Sport 2 began and the one factor that modified was the Phoenix Suns did not wait till the third quarter to take management.
The Suns led for all however the first 30 seconds of Wednesday’s 123-98 victory earlier than a charged and energized sellout crowd of 16,529 at Phoenix Suns Enviornment in taking a 2-0 sequence lead on this best-of-7 convention semifinals sequence.
“We’re simply attempting to play the precise means for one another,” Suns coach Monty Williams mentioned. “We attempt to play exhausting each single night time. That is who we’re. That is our DNA. Our guys share the ball. I believe the factor that is actually cool to observe is guys making performs for one another. That is playoff basketball and that is how now we have to play to achieve success.”
Main by as many as 31, the Suns will look to take a 3-0 sequence in Friday’s Sport 3 in Denver. They seemed so convincing in victory Wednesday, their followers have been chanting, “Suns in 4, Suns in 4!” within the fourth quarter.
“It is exhausting to place into phrases,” Booker mentioned of the fan reactions. “Even Deandre (Ayton) coming to me and being like, ‘Man, we seen it when it was,’ and I inform him each time, ‘I’ve seen it earlier than you have been right here, additionally.’ “
That chant sounded extra like a premonition to Malone.
“This was simply an embarrassing efficiency for myself all the best way to the final participant,” Malone mentioned. “We’re strolling out of right here with our heads held down, rightfully so. There is a purpose their crowd is yelling ‘Suns in 4’ they usually’re calling for a sweep as a result of if we play like this again in Denver, that is going to be a very fast sequence.”
The Suns gained Sport 2 with all 5 starters scoring in double figures for a second straight recreation as Devin Booker had a team-high 18 factors whereas Chris Paul posted 17 factors, 15 assists to no turnovers and 5 rebounds.
NBA MVP Nikola Jokic paced Denver with 24 factors as he gave the Nuggets a 2-0 result in open the sport.
It was all Suns after that.
Whereas the Nuggets began 0-for-9 from 3-point vary, with Michael Porter Jr. going 0-for-6 within the first half, Phoenix constructed a 10-point halftime lead with Dario Saric offering an eight-point set off the bench.
When the third quarter got here round this time, Phoenix simply continued to pour it on the Nuggets.
From Booker hitting jumpers to Jae Crowder making performs and Paul selecting aside the Denver protection, the Suns had the group roaring louder and louder and the Nuggets reeling deeper and deeper with the belief they’d no solutions Wednesday night time.
“I noticed one crew that needed to be right here and play with a goal and urgency and one crew that didn’t wish to be right here and play with no urgency and that is why we bought our ass ckicked,” Malone mentioned.
Then identical to Sport 1, Paul took over within the fourth in scoring eight factors, hitting 2-of-2 from 3 as that injured proper shoulder would not look so injured anymore.
“I really feel good, I really feel actually good,” Paul mentioned. “I missed some straightforward ones early, however the best way that we play, the ball goes to search out you.”
Paul posted his third profession playoff recreation with not less than 15 factors, 15 assists and nil turnovers. Solely Magic Johnson and Jason Kidd have performed the identical as the 2 Corridor of Famers every did it simply as soon as within the postseason.
“To be named with a man like Magic, that is legendary,” Booker mentioned as Paul handed Magic Johnson to turn out to be fifth on the NBA all-time assists record within the common season. “That is without end. That is larger than the sport of basketball. That is an icon.”
Denver will return house with Jokic to play earlier than what ought to be a energetic environment for Sport 3. Nonetheless, Phoenix confirmed within the first two video games of the sequence this is not the identical lopsided matchup in Denver’s favor.
The Nuggets have been 6-1 of their final seven video games towards Phoenix coming into this sequence.
They’re now down 0-2, not capturing the ball properly from 3 and looking out misplaced on protection attempting to maintain up with Phoenix’s ball motion, participant motion within the halfcourt and younger legs in transition.
Phoenix shot 47.4% from 3-point vary, scored 44 factors within the paint and 14 factors in transition.
It reached some extent the place Saric, not recognized for behind-the-back passes, threw one in site visitors out to an open Cam Johnson for a 3 to provide Phoenix a 109-78 lead with 6:05 left within the recreation.
Observe Duane Rankin on Twitter @DuaneRankin.