In Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals matchup between the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns, the game changed in the third quarter.
Denver led 70-60 with just over eight minutes left in the quarter. From there, the Suns outscored the Nuggets 28-9 in the third quarter and would win Game 1 122-105 at Phoenix Suns Arena on Monday night.
We may have finally seen a healthy Chris Paul. In the fourth quarter, Paul, who had been battling a shoulder injury, scored 10 straight points. Paul(6-6 fg) had 14 of his 21 points in the quarter. He also added 11 assists.
Phoenix’s five starters all scored in double figures, led by Mikal Bridges’ 23 points.
“The only way you get a chance to see how it is is during the game,” Paul said about his shoulder. “It was good. It was fun to get out there and be involved. That last series was, that was tough. I’m glad to be back helping the team.”
Devin Booker, who scored 21 points on Monday night, added this on Paul: “He just made plays… Not only scoring ability but getting everybody else involved. That’s been the story of the season for us.”
Game 2 is Wednesday night in Phoenix.
A big matchup in this series is the center battle between MVP Nikola Jokic and Deandre Ayton. Jokic(23) outscored Ayton(20), but Jokic had more field goal attempts(23) than Ayton(13), and Ayton(10) had more rebounds than Jokic(9).
Before the game, Jokic said Ayton gives him trouble. After the Suns’ win, Ayton talked Jokic.
“I love playing against Jokic, man,” Ayton said. “That’s the MVP of our league. He has so much; he has a lot to cover. Dude can do anything. That’s just the modern center there… We just have to keep competing and stay locked in.”
Phoenix is at its best when Paul is healthy, which we saw in Game 1. The Suns not only have an excellent team, but they have a great home crowd who was into the game from start to finish
The Nuggets will make adjustments, and we’ll see how much that will help in Game 2.
Watch as Paul, Ayton, Booker, and Bridges react to team’s win Game 1 win over Denver: