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PHOENIX, ARIZONA – JUNE 09: Austin Rivers #25 of the Denver Nuggets drives the ball against Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns during the second half in Game Two of the Western Conference second-round playoff series at Phoenix Suns Arena on June 09, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo : Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The Phoenix Suns registered an emphatic 123-98 victory over the Denver Nuggets in Game 2 of their Western Conference Semifinal series Wednesday night to take a commanding 2-0 lead. It was another impressive win by the Suns who have now won five consecutive games this postseason, dating back to their series victory against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.
Chris Paul the catalyst again
Just like in the opening game, it was Chris Paul who starred for the Phoenix Suns in Game 2 with the veteran point guard scoring 17 points and dishing out 15 assists. More importantly, Paul committed zero turnovers. Through the first two games in this series, Paul has recorded 26 assists and committed just one error. Not bad for a 36-year-old whose right shoulder was injured in the opening round series against the Lakers.
Fortunately for the Suns, those injury concerns are a thing of the past with Paul seemingly hell bent on winning his first ever NBA title this season. It wasn’t just Paul who recorded a double-double in this contest. Deandre Ayton delivered yet another solid playoff showing, scoring 15 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Devin Booker didn’t produce his usual offensive numbers but still contributed with 18 points and 10 boards.
Phoenix’s depth was once again a problem for the Denver Nuggets as six Suns players scored in double figures, including all five of their starters. Mikal Bridges and Jamal Crowder combined for 27 points on 9 of 17 shooting from the floor, with five three-pointers to boot. To further emphasize this point, 11 Phoenix players scored at least five points in this contest. The Suns’ dominance was in full display in the second half as they led by as much as 31 points during the final quarter.
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Nuggets’ offensive woes continue in Game 2
Michael Malone will have his work cut out for him as the series shifts to Denver for Games and 3 and 4. Denver’s supporting cast has struggled mightily on the offensive end in this series, particularly Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon. They were simply abysmal in Game 2, combining for just 17 points on 6-of-20 shooting from the field.
League MVP Nikola Jokic produced solid numbers in Game 2, recording 24 points, 13 rebounds and six assists but he will be asked to deliver more in Game 3, given the ongoing struggles of his teammates. Denver players not named Jokic shot just 37 percent from the field in Game 2.
Malone delivered scathing remarks in his post-match interview, telling reporters that “this was an embarrassing performance for himself all the way to the last player.” Malone then said that “this is going to be a really quick series” if they perform the same way in Denver.
For the Nuggets to avoid the sweep, they will need to get Porter Jr. back in shape. He looked out of sorts in Game 2 after tweaking his back in the series opener, scoring just 11 points on 3 of 13 shooting from the field, including a woeful 2 of 9 from beyond the arc.
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