Denver Nuggets Snap Skid, Beat Suns 104-96


The Denver Nuggets snapped their 3-game losing streak on Wednesday night, defeating the Phoenix Suns on the road by a final score of 104-96.

With point guard Jameer Nelson sitting out this game against Phoenix because of an illness, Randy Foye got the start at the 1 and did not disappoint. Foye led the Denver Nuggets in scoring on Wednesday night with 31 points while adding 6 assists and 2 rebounds. Foye also hit 7 three-pointers on the night. Head Coach Mike Malone had to work with a shorthanded team on the road on Wednesday, tightening the rotation and affording minutes to only eight of his players. 

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Little used Kostas Papanikolaou and Mike Miller also started for Mike Malone’s shorthanded Denver Nuggets against the Suns. Papanikolaou scored 9 points and secured 5 rebounds in 33 minutes, while the veteran Mike Miller went scoreless in 18 minutes, notching 6 rebounds and recording 5 dimes.

Foye led five Denver Nuggets who scored in double digits, including a double-double from Darrell Arthur, who scored 19 points and notched 10 boards. Will Barton continued his good play as of late with 17 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists off the bench, while Nikola Jokic scored 13 points and recorded 9 rebounds. Kenneth Faried scored 11 points and 6 rebounds.

Over the past couple of games, the Denver Nuggets have shown a predilection for giving up large leads — and tonight was no different. After outscoring the Suns 33-21 in the first period of play at Talking Stick Resort Arena, the Denver Nuggets grew there lead to an astounding 22 points with 6:50 left in the second quarter, making the score 50-28. The Suns would finish the second quarter on a 22-6 run, closing the gap to 56-50 at the break. This recent trend of squandering large leads (as they did against both the Pelicans and Lakers earlier this week) is quite concerning, and does not portend good things if the Denver Nuggets wish to continue as a playoff contender.

Dec 23, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Randy Foye (4) shoots a three point shot over Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker (17) during the second half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Nuggets won 104-96. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns came out of halftime firing, and actually took the lead in the third quarter. With nearly 7 minutes left in the quarter, a Jon Leuer score gave Phoenix a 66-63 lead. After that though, the Denver Nuggets went on a 13-3 run over the next 5 minutes, giving them a 79-69 lead with a little over a minute left in the third. The Denver Nuggets finished the quarter with a 79-72 lead.

The Denver Nuggets did not relinquish their lead from that point on, controlling the pace of the fourth quarter throughout. The Suns did rally after the Nuggets stretched their lead to 84-75 with 10:49 left in the quarter. Phoenix went on a 12-4 run over the next five minutes, narrowing the Denver Nuggets lead to one with 5:43 left, making the score 88-87 off of a Brandon Knight 2-point shot.

Three straight baskets from Kenneth Faried and Will Barton gave the Denver Nuggets a 9 point lead with 4:26 remaining, and from that point on, held at least a 6 point lead. The Denver Nuggets out-shot the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday 46-41 percent, and out-rebounded their hosts 50-46. As with last night’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Denver Nuggets lost the free-throw battle, as the Suns had 12 more attempts than the visitors.

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Brandon Knight led the Phoenix Suns in scoring on Wednesday with 21 points on 8-18 shooting, to go along with 10 assists and 4 rebounds. Ronnie Price also scored 20 points in 30 minutes off the bench on 7-13 shooting. Forward Jon Leuer recorded a double-double for Jeff Hornacek‘s squad with 18 points on 9-18 shooting and 10 rebounds in 29 minutes.

The Denver Nuggets definitely took advantage of a struggling Suns squad, who entered Wednesday’s game losers of four of their last five contests. Snapping their 3-game losing streak is a step in the right direction, and got a huge victory on the road despite having a paper thin roster.

Next: Denver Nuggets Travel to Phoenix to Face Suns

The Denver Nuggets now have three days to rest up and try to get healthy before they face what is undoubtedly one of the most difficult games of the season, traveling to the AT&T Center to face the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday.