LOS ANGELES – Chris Paul scored 17 points and distributed 15 no-turnover assists on Wednesday to propel the Phoenix Suns to a landslide 123-98 victory over Denver and a 2-0 lead in their NBA playoff series.
Veteran point guard Paul was the keystone of the Suns’ dominating victory, snatching five rebounds and ending the night without a turnaround.
Every Suns starter scored in double digits and Phoenix did not give the Nuggets a chance to celebrate the NBA MVP award Denver center Nikola Jokic received on Tuesday.
Devin Booker scored 18 points for Phoenix. Deandre Ayton added 15 points and 10 rebounds and also kept Jokic in check for much of the night.
Jokic finished with 24 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, missing the fourth quarter with Phoenix in full control.
“It was a team effort, again,” said Paul.
“We knew how important this game was,” he added, noting that the Suns did not want to travel to Denver for Game 3 on Friday with the Series Division. “We just wanted to keep the advantage on the pitch and take the win.”
Leading 52-42 at halftime, the Suns pushed the lead to 60-43 with the help of two three-pointers from Jae Crowder.
Phoenix was leading 86-67 heading into the final quarter, when they pushed the lead to 31 with Jokic and Aaron Gordon on the bench.
Gordon and Crowder both received technical fouls after a grueling rally in the third quarter, but the incident was just one incident in the Suns’ march.
The Nuggets clearly continue to miss Jamal Murray – with a torn knee ligament – and Jokic has received little help from his saggy support cast.
Michael Porter, who injured his back in Game 1, played 27 minutes and scored 11 points – connecting on just three of 13 shots from the field.
Will Barton, absent since April with hamstring problems, came off the bench in the first quarter and scored 10 points in 16 minutes.
But Nuggets coach Michael Malone offered no excuse when he called the game “embarrassing.”
“I saw a team that wanted to be here, play with determination and urgency, and a team that didn’t want to be here and play without urgency – and that’s why we got our asses kicked,” Malone said afterwards. the defeat of the Nuggets by the greatest margin they have given up all season.
“We have a lot of guys who played really badly tonight,” said Malone. “And we allowed the non-firing impact to affect the other end.
“It was just an embarrassing performance all around, up and down.”
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