|7:00 PM PT8:00 PM MT9:00 PM CT10:00 PM ET2:00 GMT10:00 7:00 PM MST9:00 PM EST6:00 UAE (+1)03:0022:00 ET8:00 PM CT1:00 , June 11, 2021
Ball Arena, Denver, Colorado Attendance: 18,277
Chris Paul, Suns try to take commanding 3-0 lead vs. Nuggets
Phoenix Suns at Denver Nuggets
- The Suns beat the Nuggets by 25 (123-98) in Game 2, their largest margin of victory against the Nuggets (regular or postseason) since April 2003 (Suns won 95-65).
- Phoenix tied a postseason franchise-high with 18 made threes in Game 2 (also 2021 First Round at LAL -- Game 6). This is the Suns first 2-0 series lead since the 2010 conference semifinals vs. San Antonio.
- This is the 10th time the Nuggets have trailed a best-of-7 series 2-0. Denver lost each of the first nine series, but it was 5-4 in the Game 3's, including a 114-106 win in Game 3 of the 2020 Western Finals vs. the LA Lakers in the Orlando bubble.
- Chris Paul had 15 assists and zero turnovers in Game 2. The last player with 15+ assists and zero turnovers in a playoff game was Paul himself, in 2014 with the LA Clippers versus Oklahoma City in the conference semifinals. Paul has had three such games (also 2008 w/NO vs. Dal), while all other active NBA players have just one such postseason game (Rajon Rondo w/Bos at Chi in 2009 -- 19 assists).
- Nikola Jokic has scored 30+ points in all three home games this postseason. The last player to open a postseason with 4+ consecutive 30+ point home games was James Harden with Houston in 2017 (4 straight).
- The Suns have allowed an NBA-low 98.5 points per game this postseason, while Denver has averaged an NBA-best 128.0 points at home.
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The battle has turned into a beating -- at least in the first two games of the Western Conference second-round playoff series between the Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets.
The second-seeded Suns held serve at home with two decisive victories against the third-seeded Nuggets, and now the venue moves to Denver for Game 3 of the best-of-seven set on Friday night.
If Chris Paul has his way, his Phoenix team will head home after Game 4 on Sunday night with a sweep.
"We're cool," Paul said. "We have guys who understand the moment."
Paul, the 36-year-old point guard who has endured his share of playoff disappointments, might be looking at his best chance of reaching an NBA Finals. He was close three years ago with Houston, when the Rockets led the Golden State Warriors 3-2 in the conference finals only to drop the last two games. Paul sustained a pulled hamstring in Game 5 of that series and missed the final two contests.
This year he was hampered in the first round against the Los Angeles Lakers with a shoulder injury but has recovered, as the Nuggets can confirm. Paul had 17 points, 15 assists and zero turnovers Wednesday night in Phoenix's 123-98 victory, and in the two games he has 26 assists and one turnover.
"Obviously 15 assists, zero turnovers is unheard of," Suns guard Devin Booker said. "But for Chris Paul, it's a thing that he does and makes it look normal."
Paul has orchestrated two dominant performances by Phoenix. In both games, all five starters scored in double figures, and the Suns held Denver to an average of 101.5 points per game, down from 115.1 points a game in the regular season.
While the Suns are looking for a commanding lead in the series Friday night, the Nuggets are searching for answers -- and effort. After a 17-point loss in Game 1, JaMychal Green and Aaron Gordon said the Nuggets played soft.
Wednesday night it was head coach Michael Malone who questioned the effort. Not even the return of Will Barton could spark Denver. He scored 10 points but was limited to 16 minutes in his first game in nearly two months after recovering from a hamstring injury.
"I saw one team that wanted to be here and played with a purpose and urgency, and one team that did not want to be here," Malone said. "That's why we got our (rear) kicked.
"I just told our players, it's embarrassing that a guy that hasn't been able to play for seven weeks was out there leaving it all on the line. I don't think anybody else did."
Newly crowned MVP Nikola Jokic averaged 23 points and 11 rebounds in the first two games, but the rest of the Nuggets have struggled on offense. Michael Porter Jr., who is dealing with back issues, scored just 11 points in Game 2. Gordon had 18 in the first game but just six points Wednesday night, and backup point guard Monte Morris shot a combined 2-for-17 in the first two games.
The Nuggets hope coming home will make a difference, as well as the postgame meeting after losing Game 2 by 25 points.
"Some things were definitely said," Barton said, "some things that needed to be said."
--Field Level Media
Updated June 11, 2021