Commenter noonoo eloquently summed up this game at halftime:
Crap on a spatula. What was that.
What that was was winning by any means necessary. I predicted in the preview that the Suns would win this one handily. How wrong could I be? As Steve Albert mentioned incessantly during the game, Denver had lost it's last 4 games by an average margin of 27.5 points. This one was in the bag!
The Denver Nuggets and maybe the altitude had other ideas about what should go in the bag and how handily it should get there. Credit P.J. Tucker, Gerald Green and Goran Dragi? for keeping the Suns in this one after a hot start chilled to nearly freezing. Green carried the offensive load with 36 huge points, while Dragi? fed the fire with 14 assists to with 21 points of his own. P.J. Tucker was simply everywhere. He dove after loose balls, grabbed big rebounds and played every minute as if someone had a gun to his family's head. His 13 points and 11 rebounds don't tell the story of his impact on the game. Markieff Morris continued his solid play versus the Nuggets with 13 points and 12 boards, including a put-back to send the game into overtime.
After Dragi? carried the team in the first half, Green did the heavy lifting in the 4th quarter and overtime, scoring 18 of his points in the final 2 stanzas. Given their foul trouble, Phoenix did a good job of playing through adversity. By the time it was all said and done, both Miles Plumlee and Markieff Morris fouled out, while Channing Frye played part of the 4th quarter and OT with 5 fouls. It was not a pretty win, but it counts just the same as the rest of them!
The game started promisingly enough for Phoenix who came out looking dialed in and primed to blow Denver off the court. Phoenix jumped out to a 10-2 lead before Denver called a timeout to regroup. It didn’t help. 3 minutes later Phoenix had extended the lead to 21-7 behind a Gerald Green putback dunk and a pair of Goran Dragic one-man-fast-breaks that ended in 4 made free throws. That was the highwater mark for the Suns. The wheels started rattling off at this point.
Coach Jeff Hornacek, perhaps thinking his team had the game well in hand brought Ish Smith in for Dragi? with 5 minutes remaining in the first quarter and both the Suns' offense and defense promptly sputtered. Denver went on a 16-6 run before back to back baskets by Leandro Barbosa and Marcus Morris slowed the bleeding and the Suns took a 31-25 lead into the second quarter.
Denver kicked off the 2nd quarter with an 8-2 run to tie the game at 33. From that point on, the game was a relatively close affair whose outcome remained in doubt until the very end. Foul trouble plagued the Suns as Denver attacked the basket repeatedly, challenging the Sun's big defense to make plays. Instead, they made fouls. By the end of the first half, Miles Plumlee had 4 fouls while Channing Frye, Gerald Green, Markieff Morris and Alex Len all collected 3 apiece. Denver shot 14 free throws to the Suns' 2 in the 2nd quarter and Phoenix went into halftime nursing a 1-point lead. It could have been worse, considering Denver shot a paltry 60% from the stripe for half. Goran Dragi? and Kenneth Faried matched each other as leading scorers for their teams with 16 points each.
The third quarter was an up and down affair. Phoenix got the lead back up to 11, only to see that margin evaporate as Denver closed the period with a 12-0 run. Evan Fournier scored 8 of those points and looked all-world, finishing the quarter with 12 points on a perfect 4-4 from the field (including 2 3-pointers) and 2-2 from the line. Nuggets led 77-76.
In the 4th quarter, it was Gerald Green's turn to score a handful of points, even if they were not in impressive fashion. Despite going 2-8 from the floor, Green pumped in 10 crucial points to keep the Suns in the game. 8 of those came in a single minute from 8:05 to 7:05 including back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Suns an 87-86 lead. It wasn't enough to keep Denver at bay. The Nuggets would keep fighting, eventually taking a 5-point lead with 50.5 seconds left in the game. Channing Frye, who struggled with foul trouble on the way to 11 points and 8 rebounds nailed a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left in regulation. After a missed Evan Fournier jumper, Phoenix called a timeout with 17.8 seconds left to gather their thoughts and draw up a game winner.
Channing Frye took a rushed 2-pointer and missed, but Marcus Morris was there for the offensive rebound to tie it up at 99 with 5.7 seconds left. Wilson Chandler got a decent look as time expired, but he missed and we were off to overtime.
OT was more GG heroics. After starting the party with a ferocious dunk, Green answered every Denver rally, and Goran Dragi? finally gave the Suns a lead they wouldn't reliquish with a fast-break dunk with 56.3 seconds left. From there, it was a free throw contest and the Suns snuck out of Denver with a hard-earned win.