PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Chris Paul was a magician with the basketball and the Phoenix Suns upped their defensive as they cruised to a 123-98 win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals. Paul, who's 36 years old and had struggled with a shoulder injury for most of the playoffs, looked 10 years younger with his 15 assists and zero turnovers. He also had 17 points. Suns lead the series 2-0. Game 3 is Friday at Denver.
Devin Booker added 18 points and a surprising 10 rebounds for the Suns. All five starters for the Suns were in double figures for points.
Nikola Jokic had 24 points and 13 rebounds for Denver, a day after getting the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award. But the Nuggets couldn’t find anyone else to score consistently, leaving them reeling going back to Denver
The game started off close with the Suns only up by four points after the first quarter. Ayton got into early foul trouble but Dario Šarić came in and scored eight points in 7:29 minutes. Denver continued to struggle from the field in the second quarter and they had six turnovers as the Suns increased their lead to 10 with a score of 52-42 at halftime. The Suns then started the second half on a 10-1 run and never looked back. Jae Crowder added a pair of 3-pointers early in the third to make it 60-43. Phoenix took an 86-67 advantage into the fourth. The Suns led by 31 in the final quarter.
Crowder had another good night as the Suns' long-range shooter and enforcer. He and Denver's Aaron Gordon were each called for a technical foul after they exchanged words and shoves midway through the third. On the next possession, Crowder coaxed Gordon into committing an offensive foul, much to the delight of the 16,529 at Phoenix Suns Arena.
Paul pushed the sellout crowd into a frenzy in the fourth, throwing his 15th assist to Torrey Craig after criss-crossing around helpless Denver forward Paul Millsap. The 36-year-old guard then hit a pair of 3-pointers and the celebration was on in the desert with the Suns rolling in their first playoff appearance in 11 seasons. Phoenix has now won five straight.