Nuggets cool off Suns, draw first blood in Conference semis

DENVER — Jamal Murray kept imploring the crowd to get louder and louder with each trip down the floor.

As if the Nuggets point guard even needed to. His play was already rocking the arena.

Murray scored 34 points, hitting six of Denver’s 16 3-pointers, and the Nuggets sprinted past the Phoenix Suns 125-107 on Sunday, April 30, 2023 (PH time), in Game 1 of their second-round series.

Reigning back-to-back NBA MVP Nikola Jokic had 24 points and 19 rebounds, while Aaron Gordon finished with 23 points. But this was the Murray Show, where he went 6 of 10 from 3-point land and frequently exhorted for more noise from the already raucous crowd.

“Let’s be honest, some of the shots he hit tonight I don’t think anybody could have stopped him,” Suns coach Monty Williams said.

Kevin Durant scored 29 points and grabbed 14 boards for the Suns, with Devin Booker adding 27 points and Chris Paul 11. Booker averaged 37.2 points in a first-round series win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

“I thought that they were just more physical, played with more force,” Williams said. “We’ve got to regroup and do a much better job of playing with pace on offense.”

Game 2 is Tuesday in Denver.

This is a different sort of playoff series than two years ago, when the Suns swept the Nuggets in the second round. Back then, Denver was without Murray after he tore his ACL.

Now healthy, Murray is flashing his 2020 form inside the NBA bubble that helped Denver advance to the Western Conference finals. / AP