The Phoenix Suns were bound to be shorthanded Tuesday night in the altitude of Denver, playing without Steve Nash and Grant Hill, two late-30s vets who were given the night off in the midst of the Suns' run of three games in three nights.
Call it altitude, road-weariness, playing in a place where they haven't won many games or whatever, but the Suns came up way short again at the Pepsi Center, falling 109-92.
The Suns (12-17) fell behind by 16 points in early in the second quarter, 37-21, before rallying behind Michael Redd's shooting. Redd, who finished with 20 points, hit a 3-pointer with 19.2 seconds left in the first half to cut Denver's lead to 56-51.
Problem was, most of the other Suns couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with their shooting. The Suns shot just 36 percent from the field at halftime and finished 33-for-99 for the game.
Still, the Suns fought their way back into the game with solid offensive play early in the third quarter. A Redd three-ball with 9:53 to go made it 62-59 Suns, and a little over a minute later, Redd struck again for three to tie the score at 62.
That seemed to jolt the Nuggets, who closed out the quarter with a 24-8 run to lead 86-70 going into the fourth quarter.
The Suns couldn't get back into the game, but did get a career high in points from rookie Markieff Morris, who scored 21. The Nuggets (17-12) played without physical big man Nene, but got 41 points from their bench led by the Birdman aka Chris Andersen, who scored 17 points, pulled down seven rebounds and blocked six shots in less than 22 minutes of action.
The Suns return home to face Atlanta tomorrow night. Phoenix is 7-10 on the road this season and has played only 12 home games, tied for second-fewest in the NBA with two other teams.