In a nail-biting showdown, the Phoenix Suns managed to protect their home court and even the series against the Denver Nuggets. The Suns emerged victorious, 129-124, in the Western Conference Semifinals, thanks to the scintillating performances of Devin Booker and Kevin Durant. With the series tied at 2-2, the teams now face a best-of-3 situation heading back to Denver for Game 5.
An Epic Battle of Stars
Nikola Jokić, the star for the Denver Nuggets, put on a historic performance, scoring a career-high 53 points and dishing out 11 assists. This feat set a new Nuggets’ record for most points scored in a playoff game. Michael Porter Jr. praised Jokić’s performance, saying, “Obviously, an amazing scoring night. That’s what we needed from him tonight.” Despite Jokić’s heroics, the Suns’ dynamic duo of Devin Booker and Kevin Durant proved too much for Denver, with both players scoring 36 points each.
Bench Boost and Fastbreak Domination
The Suns’ bench stepped up, outscoring Denver’s reserves 40-11, with Landry Shamet providing a crucial spark by scoring 19 points and hitting 5 three-pointers. Phoenix also outshot the Nuggets from beyond the arc, outrebounded them, and outscored Denver in fastbreak points for the second-straight game.
Denver’s coach Michael Malone lamented Phoenix’s fastbreak scoring, stating, “Devin Booker going off in transition is, you know, there is no game plan for that. So get back and show them a crowd.“
A Game of Momentum Swings
In a game characterized by momentum shifts, the Suns took a lead in the second quarter with T.J. Warren’s twisting layup and Cam Payne’s transition three-pointer. Booker continued his onslaught, totaling 19 points before halftime. Jokić, meanwhile, bullied the Suns inside, scoring 24 points before the break. The Suns finished the half ahead, 63-61.
The third quarter saw Jokić and Booker continue their duel, with Jokić scoring 16 points and Booker going 6-for-6 from the field, including a pull-up three-pointer to give the Suns a 98-92 lead heading into the fourth.
In the final quarter, Landry Shamet took center stage, hitting crucial three-pointers to extend the Suns’ lead. Despite Jokić’s valiant effort to bring his team back into the game, the Nuggets fell short.
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This high-scoring thriller witnessed several milestones:
– Jokić’s 53 points were a career-high in both the postseason and regular season, and he became the first center to ever drop 50+ points and 10+ assists in a playoff game.
– Jokić passed Alex English for first place on the Nuggets’ playoff all-time scoring leaders list with 1,541 points.
– Jamal Murray reached 250 career assists in the playoffs after reaching 1,000 career playoff points in Game 3.
– Denver’s bench scored just 11 points, the 5th-fewest scored in a playoff game since 1983.
– Game 4 was just the 7th NBA playoff game since the NBA-ABA merger in which both teams shot at least 56 percent from the field.
As the series heads back to Denver for a pivotal Game 5, both teams will need to dig deep and make adjustments to seize control of this evenly-matched contest.
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