NBA: Nuggets drub short-handed Suns
Nikola Jokic had 21 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists, Bones Hyland also scored 21 and the host Denver Nuggets beat the Phoenix Suns 126-97 on Wednesday night.
Jamal Murray scored 16 points before leaving early in the fourth with a left ankle sprain. Zeke Nnaji and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 15 each, Aaron Gordon added 12 and Michael Porter Jr. finished with 11 for the Nuggets, who have won 12 straight at home.
Torrey Craig scored 16 points, Josh Okogie had 14, and Dario Saric, Jock Landale and Damion Lee finished with 11 each for Phoenix, which has lost 10 of 12.
The Suns played without center Deandre Ayton for the second straight game, another blow to their depth. Devin Booker (groin), Chris Paul (hip) and Cameron Payne (foot) aren’t with the team on this road trip that continues in Minnesota on Friday night.
The Nuggets jumped out to a 27-16 lead late in the first quarter, but Phoenix made a run. Okogie had a 3-pointer and a pair of fadeaway jumpers, Landale made one from deep to cut the deficit to 29-26.
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Hyland scored five straight points but Okogie’s jumper made it 34-28 after one period.
Murray opened the second with a 3-pointer, Hyland hit two from behind the arc and Nnaji made two free throws in a 7-0 Denver run.
Duane Washington Jr. hit a 3-pointer that got the Suns within 11 but Murray and Hyland hit from long range and Jokic had a putback to make it 52-33. Craig’s 3-pointer ended the Nuggets’ run, but Hyland stayed hot from deep with two more to give Denver a 63-40 lead.
The Suns closed out the quarter on a 14-7 run to trail 70-54 at halftime.
Saric hit a jumper to open the third quarter, but the Nuggets started to pull away. Porter scored nine points and Jokic had a couple of buckets in a 16-2 run that made it 86-58. Denver took a 31-point lead with 1:15 remaining in the third.
Phoenix got within 21 in the first minute of the fourth but never mounted a threat.