Nikola Stock – Suns close out Nuggets with sweep as Nicola Jokic ejected
EditorsNote: Ninth graph: 96-83 is the correct score; 10th graph: 5:15 left is correct
Chris Paul scored 37 points, Devin Booker had 34 points and 11 rebounds, and the visiting Phoenix Suns beat the Denver Nuggets 125-118 on Sunday night to sweep the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series.
Mikal Bridges scored 14 points, Deandre Ayton had 12 points and Jae Crowder had 10 rebounds and four blocks to go with nine points for the Suns, who reached the conference finals for the first time in 11 years.
Will Barton had 25 points, Michael Porter Jr. scored 20, Monte Morris finished with 19 and Facu Campazzo 14 for Denver.
The Nuggets struggled in the third quarter of the first three games but came out strong after halftime Sunday night. Porter hit a 3-pointer to help cut an eight-point deficit to 71-70 with 7:46 left.
Things turned soon after. Paul made a trio of midrange jumpers to keep Phoenix in the lead, and after Ayton’s alley-oop on a pass from Booker put the Suns ahead 83-75, tempers flared.
Jokic missed a 12-footer and then took a hard swipe at the ball after Cameron Payne got the rebound. Booker went chest-to-chest with Jokic as officials, players and coaches separated the two. Jokic was hit with the Flagrant 2 foul and was ejected with 3:52 left.
He went over and shook Payne’s hand as he left the court.
Phoenix quickly built a 15-point lead and led 96-83 heading into the fourth quarter.
Denver showed some fight after that, cutting the lead to 99-93 on a 3-pointer by Porter. Barton hit another from deep and JaVale McGee split a pair of free throws to make it 101-97. The Suns built the lead back up to eight with 5:15 left.
Paul converted a three-point play and had a steal and a layup to make it 114-103 and Phoenix closed it out.
Phoenix led by as many as 10 in the first half, saw the Nuggets close within two, and led 63-55 halftime lead.
–Field Level Media