It hurts.

The Denver Nuggets continued their mastery of the Phoenix Suns, riding a dominating third quarter to a 118-107 win in Phoenix today, their sixth in a row over the Suns. Ty Lawson led the Nuggets with a season-high 29 points and 10 assists, his backcourt partner Arron Afflalo scored 19, Denver forced 17 Phoenix turnovers, and Kenneth Faried ruled the paint with 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Shannon Brown led the Suns with 28 points including 6 converted 3-pointers, Marcin Gortat put up a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Steve Nash dished 13 assists, passing Oscar Robertson for fifth on the all-time assists list in the process.

Unfortunately, this game looked similar to the Suns' previous meetings against the Nuggets: Denver is too athletic for Phoenix to keep up, they force the Suns into turnovers and convert them to easy transition baskets as the Nuggets beat the Suns 26-2 in fast break points. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The Suns lost Channing Frye late in the second quarter with a "subluxed right shoulder" and the Nuggets holding a 48-47 lead. Whether due to Frye's absence or not, things went south in a hurry after that as Denver's lead ballooned to as many as 21 in the third quarter, and the Nuggets had 93 points on the board after only three quarters of play.

Even with the loss, the Suns continue to control their own destiny in the playoff race. Since they hold the tiebreaker over the Jazz, a win over the Jazz plus either a Suns win over San Antonio or another Jazz loss would put the Suns in the postseason.

The loss of Frye hurts about as much as the loss of the game. Last season, the Suns were making a strong playoff push before Frye's shoulder injury effectively finished their season. His basic stats aren't anything special at around 10 points and 6 rebounds per game, but he's a valuable player as a stretch big man to give Nash spacing to execute the pick and roll.

Next game is Tuesday, the pivotal matchup at Utah versus the Jazz.

Follow the jump for the roll call.

Roll Call: NashMV3, Toon Army Sun, lux200, shawndy, The Solution, Suns R Us, HarunSUNS, WaveOcean, REneeR, toto_l2003, HarvMel, MMotherwell, SteveNash, QuantumPhysicist, brian13, Jim Coughenour, PhoenixSons, rainmann, the new Bradfather, haremoor, Juac, wedge1039, Beavis 25, JoeWisco, raxado, phxpurple, Antwuan, ThatOtherCanadianKid, troglodytes, SUNS PORTUGAL, Dickwan Sasser, sunnydays, PHXgp, Piotr Szczesniak, East Bay Ray, suns68, PolishHammer, Omaha Sun, sonicking, sports_dude33, quixilver, Stanley B, ericscholwinski, Spit_Fire, Suns2flyy, ArizonaCactus, Gnurrgard, MJ5, sidepart, fandbacks, KC_Suns_Fan, fanoftheunderdogs, NIRVANALOGIK, jatrex4suns, NashIsBeast, Not Disclosing My Name, nashtyish, ScottHowardsOffspring, Aztiramtempe, tameszu, modernage13
Total Users: 60
Total Posts: 1470
Total Threads: 2

Name # of Posts
PhoenixSons 142
NashMV3 128
Suns R Us 104
SteveNash, QuantumPhysicist 99
shawndy 93
Antwuan 68
Omaha Sun 60
Jim Coughenour 56
phxpurple 55
brian13 52
MMotherwell 47
Beavis 25 44
WaveOcean 41
HarvMel 37
raxado 37
PolishHammer 33
East Bay Ray 27
haremoor 24
NashIsBeast 23
sonicking 22
the new Bradfather 21
ThatOtherCanadianKid 20
Juac 19
rainmann 18
NIRVANALOGIK 17
JoeWisco 17
wedge1039 14
HarunSUNS 13
PHXgp 13
lux200 12
troglodytes 10
Toon Army Sun 10
fanoftheunderdogs 9
SUNS PORTUGAL 8
Dickwan Sasser 7
The Solution 7
Not Disclosing My Name 6
Gnurrgard 6
sports_dude33 5
Suns2flyy 4
ericscholwinski 4
ArizonaCactus 4
modernage13 4
Piotr Szczesniak 4
Stanley B 4
Spit_Fire 3
suns68 3
jatrex4suns 2
KC_Suns_Fan 2
toto_l2003 2
tameszu 1
ScottHowardsOffspring 1
nashtyish 1
Aztiramtempe 1
sidepart 1
sunnydays 1
quixilver 1
MJ5 1
fandbacks 1
REneeR 1


Steve Nash passed Oscar Robertson for fifth on the all-time assists list in the first half.

It's been the usual Suns/Nuggets game so far: 60% shooting for the Nuggets, 54% for the Suns, 118 combined first half points. The pick and roll was working early for the Suns as Gortat had 13 first quarter points and Nash 9 assists. Bad news for the Suns was the injury to Channing Frye. It will now be up to Markieff Morris and Hakim Warrick to carry the load at PF.

We can do this!

Channing Frye won't return. Subluxed right shoulder, same as last season.

— Seth Pollack (@sethpo) April 21, 2012

Roll Call: brian13, HarunSUNS, NashMV3, East Bay Ray, Omaha Sun, Toon Army Sun, haremoor, SteveNash, QuantumPhysicist, PolishHammer, fandbacks, Jim Coughenour, ericscholwinski, KC_Suns_Fan, shawndy, phxpurple, Antwuan, PhoenixSons, suns68, WaveOcean, wedge1039, Gnurrgard, sonicking, lux200, ThatOtherCanadianKid, sports_dude33, fanoftheunderdogs, Juac, JoeWisco, HarvMel, NIRVANALOGIK, jatrex4suns, rainmann, NashIsBeast, Not Disclosing My Name, PHXgp, the new Bradfather, raxado, nashtyish, ScottHowardsOffspring, Aztiramtempe, tameszu, SUNS PORTUGAL, troglodytes, Spit_Fire, Suns2flyy, Piotr Szczesniak, Suns R Us, modernage13, MMotherwell, toto_l2003
Total Users: 50
Total Posts: 809
Total Threads: 1

Name # of Posts
PhoenixSons 95
NashMV3 72
SteveNash, QuantumPhysicist 60
Omaha Sun 47
shawndy 43
Antwuan 39
Jim Coughenour 33
WaveOcean 27
brian13 26
East Bay Ray 25
PolishHammer 25
phxpurple 25
NashIsBeast 23
sonicking 21
haremoor 21
the new Bradfather 20
Suns R Us 18
NIRVANALOGIK 17
HarvMel 14
rainmann 14
raxado 14
wedge1039 12
ThatOtherCanadianKid 12
JoeWisco 12
fanoftheunderdogs 9
Toon Army Sun 9
HarunSUNS 9
Juac 8
PHXgp 7
Not Disclosing My Name 6
lux200 5
MMotherwell 5
modernage13 4
troglodytes 4
Gnurrgard 4
Suns2flyy 3
Piotr Szczesniak 2
SUNS PORTUGAL 2
sports_dude33 2
KC_Suns_Fan 2
ericscholwinski 2
suns68 2
jatrex4suns 2
fandbacks 1
toto_l2003 1
tameszu 1
ScottHowardsOffspring 1
Aztiramtempe 1
nashtyish 1
Spit_Fire 1


Photo

The race for a playoff spot continues today as the Suns host the Nuggets. A win today plus a win Tuesday versus the Jazz would clinch a spot for Phoenix, winners of 5 of 8 since their loss to the Nuggets two weeks ago.

Paul Coro reports that Grant Hill will not play today due to his nagging knee injury.

Grant Hill will not play today vs. Denver. Lateral movement is still an issue with the right knee.

— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) April 21, 2012

Suns vs. Nuggets Game Preview: Time to Break the Streak

Daily Western Conference Playoff Standings Update: Utah Jazz Biting At Phoenix Suns' Heels


Next Game




Denver Nuggets 118, Phoenix Suns 107 PHOENIX — Phoenix Suns head coach Alvin Gentry won’t call anything a must-win. He despises the term, thinks it’s a silly mantra. “I...

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Sebastian Telfair's outstanding play has been a key difference for the Suns during the second half of the season.

The Denver Nuggets have defeated the Phoenix Suns five consecutive times, including margins of victory of 34, 19 and 17. In the last meeting between the teams two weeks ago, the Suns at least kept it close, but 16 turnovers led to 26 Nuggets points and Arron Afflalo torched the Suns for 30, including five converted 3-pointers, in a 105-99 Nuggets win that put a serious dent in the Suns playoff chances.

Five Suns wins and an emergence into the 8th spot in the Western Conference later and they face the Nuggets again, with three games remaining and the thinnest of margins for error. The Nuggets have owned the Suns recently, with their athleticism, depth and aggressive defense causing the Suns all kinds of problems. That simply has to end or, frankly, the Suns don't deserve to make the playoffs.

Keys will be crisp offensive execution, avoidance of turnovers and playing strong transition defense to slow down a Nuggets team which is the league's highest-scoring at 103.5PPG.




George Karl's Nuggets play fast, they take chances on defense to create turnovers, and they leave perimeter shooters open. Denver is 24th in the league in opponents' FG% and dead last in the league in opponents' 3-point %. They can certainly be scored upon but win shootouts since they hit an excellent .471 from the field themselves.

In the first two games of this season's series between the teams, Grant Hill and Steve Nash sat out the first in the middle game of a B2B2B, and the Nuggets smacked the Suns 109-92 in a fairly sloppy game in which the teams combined for 44 turnovers. Hill missed this month's game as well with a knee injury and the latest word from Alvin Gentry is that there is a "good chance" he'll pay today.

If Hill is able to go today and is healthy enough to move effectively, it would provide a needed boost to the Suns defense as he could shadow Nuggets scorers Danilo Gallinari or Afflalo.

Robin Lopez created quite a stir with his hard foul on Blake Griffin, leaving Clippers fans and players angry over his flagrant-2 take-down, but there is still no word from the league office on additional punishment for Lopez so he's expected to play today. Many NBA observers condemned Lopez for his actions but Lakers Pau Gasol explained earlier this month how Griffin tends to incite his opponents:

"When you make a great play, obviously there's a lot of emotions and I understand the excitement of it," Gasol said. "But at the same time, you have to be respectful too. Otherwise, you probably will instigate retaliation or a bad, violent reaction. So you have to be careful with that. But that's just me."

I, for one, was slack-jaw flabbergasted watching TNT's post-game and hearing Barkley rant about how the Clippers needed an enforcer to stand up to big, bad, intimidating teams. Who, the Suns? It's true, they are becoming a tougher team and players like Lopez, Sebastian Telfair, Jared "WHAT'S UP?" Dudley and rookie Markieff Morris aren't afraid to mix it up

The hard foul from Lopez, and Dudley getting in Griffin's face were more symbolic, though. Winning a tough, physical, crucial late-season game over a quality opponent was the real display of toughness. Well, Suns, the time to man up again is right now, fighting for your season against a team that's beaten you down every time since November of 2010.

From the Denver Post:

Nuggets coach George Karl in a No. 6 state of mind: "Anytime you play Phoenix, you have to control the engine, which is Steve Nash," Karl said. "Nash's quarterbacking, he's still great. I thought earlier in the year they were struggling with their personality, but they have figured themselves out. I think they are a team that's a lot like us — they have Nash as their stud — but they have a lot of good players and you've got to be ready for a lot of different personality."

Nuggets Danilo Gallinari staying "positive" through slump: In Gallinari's six games since returning from a broken thumb, the small forward has averaged only 10.8 points while shooting just 33.3 percent from the field. While still recovering from the fractured left thumb, Gallinari is playing through pain in his right wrist too."I fell down a couple of times in the Houston game and I hurt it, but it's getting better," Gallinari said after Thursday's practice. "It will be good."


From Denver Stiffs:

Nuggets at Suns: Controlling Steve Nash There sure isn't much left to say at this point in the season. The Nuggets will need to control the pick-and-roll game and minimize the damage by Marcin Gortat (14 points and 14 rebounds vs. the Clippers). The Nuggets haven't had issues scoring against the Suns this season, so stopping their offense is the obvious key to this one.


From AZ Central:

Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat working on being more physical:

"I've just got to finish harder. At some point, when you feel really comfortable with the shooting and left hook and right hook from outside, then all of a sudden you're trying to be finesse. I just have got to finish that."

Gortat entered Thursday night's game with 47 dunks this season, ranking him 34th in league.



FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Ty Lawson 57 34.9 6.0 12.6 48.0 1.1 3.2 34.1 2.9 3.5 82.6 0.9 2.8 3.7 6.5 2.6 1.4 0.1 1.6 16.1
Arron Afflalo 58 33.5 5.2 11.2 46.5 1.4 3.6 39.8 3.2 4.1 79.1 0.6 2.5 3.1 2.4 1.3 0.6 0.2 2.2 15.1
Danilo Gallinari 39 31.2 4.5 10.8 41.3 1.4 4.3 32.1 4.2 4.9 86.8 0.6 4.1 4.7 2.6 1.6 1.0 0.5 2.0 14.5
Al Harrington 62 27.6 5.5 12.2 44.6 1.6 4.8 33.3 1.9 2.8 67.2 1.1 5.0 6.2 1.4 1.8 0.9 0.2 2.8 14.4
JaVale McGee 57 25.5 4.9 8.9 54.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.3 2.8 46.3 2.8 5.2 8.0 0.5 1.5 0.6 2.2 2.8 11.1
Andre Miller 62 27.6 3.7 8.4 44.4 0.3 1.3 23.1 2.1 2.6 81.6 0.8 2.6 3.5 6.6 2.6 1.0 0.1 2.0 9.9
Kenneth Faried 42 21.9 3.7 6.3 57.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.5 3.6 69.3 3.0 4.4 7.4 0.7 1.1 0.8 1.0 2.5 9.9
Wilson Chandler 8 26.8 3.9 9.9 39.2 0.4 1.5 25.0 1.3 1.5 83.3 0.8 4.4 5.1 2.1 2.3 0.8 0.8 2.3 9.4
Corey Brewer 55 21.7 3.3 7.8 42.8 0.6 2.2 26.1 1.6 2.3 69.3 0.8 1.9 2.6 1.5 1.0 1.2 0.3 1.9 8.8
Rudy Fernandez 31 22.9 3.2 7.3 44.0 1.3 3.9 32.8 1.0 1.4 69.8 0.3 1.8 2.1 2.4 1.3 1.0 0.1 1.2 8.6
Kosta Koufos 44 16.3 2.4 4.0 59.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.7 1.2 60.4 2.0 3.3 5.3 0.3 0.7 0.5 0.9 1.9 5.5
Timofey Mozgov 42 15.8 2.2 4.3 51.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.9 1.3 67.9 1.2 2.9 4.1 0.5 1.1 0.3 0.9 1.9 5.3
Chris Andersen 32 15.2 1.8 3.4 54.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.6 2.6 61.0 1.5 3.1 4.6 0.2 0.5 0.6 1.4 1.6 5.3
Jordan Hamilton 24 10.1 1.8 4.2 41.6 0.7 1.9 37.8 0.1 0.2 40.0 0.4 2.0 2.4 0.7 0.6 0.1 0.1 0.6 4.3
Julyan Stone 20 8.5 0.7 1.6 41.9 0.1 0.6 18.2 0.4 0.6 72.7 0.3 1.0 1.2 1.7 0.6 0.4 0.3 0.9 1.8


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