Suns Clamp Down in Fourth Quarter to Clinch Home Court
The Phoenix Suns won their seventh in a row, 140-130, at the Denver Nuggets Thursday night. With the win, Phoenix’s 60th on the season, the Suns clinch home court for the team throughout the NBA playoffs. Devin Booker scored a season high 49 points, adding 10 assists. Booker shot 16-25 from the field and 15-17 from the line. His offense helped keep the Suns in the game through the first three quarters against a Denver team that shoat 48-81, 59.3% for the game.
All five starters for the Suns scored in double figures. Mikal Bridges 22 points were huge because they helped Phoenix seize control in the fourth quarter. Chris Paul, in his first game back after missing 15 with a thumb injury, had 17 points and 13 assists in 30 minutes. Deandre Ayton chipped in 16 points and seven rebounds, while Jae Crowder added 12 on 4-7 three point shooting. Nikola Jokic had a team 28 for Denver. Bones Hyland was 4-8 from three with 23 points, while Aaron Gordon contributed 21 for the Nuggets. Phoenix outscored Denver 36-24 in the fourth quarter. The Suns forced 16 turnovers and outscored Denver 30-9 in points off turnovers.
Suns Now Have a Chance to get Healthy, Work out Kinks
Teams often struggle to find a balance, when they clinch early, between resting starters and playing them. Phoenix’s struggle will be to give Cameron Johnson, who has missed 11 games with a quad contusion, and Paul minutes while keeping them healthy for the playoffs. The Suns 60-14 record has come despite the team missing the fifth most games in the league due to injury. Health always plays a key role for a team trying to make a deep run in the playoffs, let alone win a championship.
Rebounding continues to be an issue for Phoenix as well at times. Denver outrebounded the Suns 43-38, a margin that felt and was worse at times. Phoenix first shot defense often is excellent but the team struggles giving up offensive rebounds and second chance points. Cleaning that up gives the team an even stronger chance to get over the hump and win its first championship.
stats courtesy of https://www.cbssports.com/nba/gametracker/boxscore/NBA_20220324_PHO@DEN/
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