Given the nature of the 2020-21 season, impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly every team has played consecutive games on the same floor over the course of two or three days.
But surely none have been as eventful and entertaining as the Nuggets' two games in two nights in Phoenix.
The Denver squad played three overtime periods in a matter of two games in Phoenix - one on Saturday and two on Sunday - and each time, they came out top. They won the first game 130-126 and came back in less than 24 hours, to win the second 120-112.
Heroics from Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic
In the third quarter of Game 1, on Saturday, the duo of Jokic and Murray were responsible for 24 of the team's 37 points in the third quarter, a period where Denver fought back into the game.
On Sunday, the duo were back at it. With the short-handed Suns, who were playing without Devin Booker, coming out fighting, Murray kept the team afloat early. He was responsible for 17 of the team's 28 first-quarter points.
12 first-quarter points for @BeMore27! pic.twitter.com/jfdZaiuZEn- Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) January 24, 2021
For the rest of the games, both teams battled fatigue as both teams traded makes-and-misses for much of the middle two quarters. However, late in the fourth, Phoenix rallied from 91-87 down to lead 98-95.
Then, Murray threw the Nuggets a life-saver.
CLUTCH PERSONIFIED @BeMore27 pic.twitter.com/Uiz5AUoctb- Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) January 24, 2021
In the extra period, the Joker took over. Through the 10 overtime minutes, the Nuggets had outscored the Suns 22-14 with the Serbian center being responsible for 17 of the team's 22 points.
Nikola has had enough pic.twitter.com/SOmabMo10O- Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) January 24, 2021
For the game, Jokic finished with 29 points, a career-high 22 rebounds, and six assists while Murray recorded 26 points. They were two of six Nuggets in double figures with the bench trio of Michael Porter Jr., JaMychal Green, and Monte Morris combining for 43 points.
"He has a huge passion for the game of basketball," Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said of Porter Jr., who finished with 14 points (5-9 FGs) and 11 rebounds in his second game back after missing 10 due to the NBA's health and safety protocols.
Suns battle despite missing Devin Booker
Without their All-Star, a defeat seemed likely for the Suns but they didn't take it lightly.
In the first half, Chris Paul led the charge by dishing out 12 first-half assists, while the team distributed the scoring load among the trio of Cameron Johnson (12), Deandre Ayton (15), and Jae Crowder (12).
The late 11-4 run in the fourth quarter had the Suns within seconds of a remarkable victory but the Murray dagger forced more basketball. In the first overtime, Phoenix were on the rope as Denver embarked on a 5-1 run to lead 106-103.
That's when Crowder, who was having his best game as a Sun, came up clutch.
King of Clutch- Phoenix Suns (@Suns) January 24, 2021
👑 @CJC9BOSS 👑 pic.twitter.com/lRtFcjL1CQ
By the second overtime, Ayton had been fouled out in the first extra period and Cameron Johnson was battling cramps while Paul was playing his 40-minute game of the season.Thus, despite the veteran's heroics, the Suns couldn't battle further in the second extra session as the Nuggets outscored them 14-6.
Paul finished one rebound shy of a 21-point, 13-assists triple-double. He was one of five Suns - all starters - to finish in double figures. Ayton recorded a double-double of 17 points and 13 rebounds while Crowder scored a season-high 21 points.
After two incredible games in Phoenix, the Nuggets continue their five-game road trip in Dallas in a couple of days while the Suns, who have lost four of their last five, host the Oklahoma City Thunder after three days off.
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