Over the final 1:54 minutes of overtime, the Phoenix Suns were forced to play without their best player in Devin Booker. They went on to lose the home game 130-122 in overtime to the Denver Nuggets, despite leading by as many as 14 early in the third quarter.
Booker seemed to have injured his left hamstring, the severity of which is still not known as per Suns head coach Monty Williams. Given the quick turnaround, with both teams facing each other once again on the second night of a back-to-back, Williams added that it's highly probable that the Suns will be without Booker.
Prior to injuring his hamstring, the 2020 All-Star was on-fire and was keeping the Suns afloat through the Nuggets' resurgent second half.
Take a look at this play where after coughing up the ball, he sprints back to block the shot and then lobs it up to Deandre Ayton in transition
😤 DEVIN BOOKER CHASES IT DOWN 😤- NBA (@NBA) January 23, 2021
He's got 31.. @Suns up 4 with 3:59 left.
📺: ESPN pic.twitter.com/Kuj1zVoZmU
He finished with 31 points (11-21 FGs), five rebounds, and five assists. En route to that tally, he became the ninth-youngest player to pass 8,000 career points but he couldn't lead the Suns to victory as the Nuggets' second-half charge and paint attack was too much to handle.
"I thought our starters were awful in the first half," Denver head coach Michael Malone said postgame. "We keep on talking about (defense). But in the second half, we defended. We won the game."
Since halftime, the Nuggets outscored the Suns 76-58, a majority of which was scored by the trio of Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic and Gary Harris.
"I thought Jamal's energy in that third quarter was infectious," Malone added. Murray scored eight of his 18 points in the third period and together with Jokic and Harris, the trio were responsible for nearly every field goal in the third quarter.
Doing it on both ends! pic.twitter.com/gyFpsPmK8f- Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) January 23, 2021
Murray also dished out nine assists and pulled down seven rebounds. Harris finished the game with 19 on 8-of-12 shooting while Jokic continued his MVP form, finishing two assists shy of yet another triple-double:
Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the MVP of the season so far...- Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) January 23, 2021
31 PTS | 10 REB | 8 AST#MileHighBasketball pic.twitter.com/XSjyzv9r1q
The trio were three of six Denver players to finish in double figures. Among the lot was Michael Porter Jr., who made his return after missing the previous 10 games, to finish with seven points, six rebounds, and two assists in 19 minutes. As a team, Denver outscored Phoenix 32 (80-48) in the paint.
For the Suns, the first half was near perfect. They shot 28-of-48 (58-.3%) from the field and raced to a 14-point lead courtesy of franchise-record 14 assists from Chris Paul.
Chris Paul's 1⃣4⃣ first-half assists are the most in a half by a @Suns player since Steve Nash in 2007!- NBA (@NBA) January 23, 2021
3Q underway on ESPN.. how many dimes will CP3 end up with? pic.twitter.com/m0W05m9rd6
Can Phoenix rebound without Booker on the second night of a back-to-back? The Suns sit at 8-6 having lost three of their last four.
On the other hand, the Nuggets would look to build on the momentum from this game - one that helps them rise above .500 for the first time this season with a record of 8-7.
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