The Phoenix Suns were right with the Denver Nuggets all through the first half, but a 23-6 run to start the third quarter blew the game open. The Suns were able to close to within 11, but never really threatened the Nuggets who clinched a playoff spot with the win.
The Suns playoff chances remain alive heading into an actual "must win" game in Utah on Tuesday against the Jazz. A win there and the Suns would need a win on Wednesday to guarantee a postseason spot. A loss Tuesday and it's over.
Phoenix lost more than just this game when starting power forward Channing Frye had to leave the court in the second quarter with a "sublexed right shoulder".
Little-used Hakim Warrick started the third quarter but defensively was a liability as the Nuggets pushed the ball and converted turnovers. He wasn't the only one "credited" with poor defense for the Suns.
"Our whole team was lost defensively. I don't think it was just one guy, I don't think you can say that," coach Alvin Gentry said.
Ty Lawson continues to punish a Suns team that passed on him in the 2009 NBA Draft. The Suns picked Earl Clark 14th while Lawson went 18th overall.
Lawson admitted after the game that he does have that in his mind, "I don't think it's personal (facing Steve Nash) It's never personal. Maybe against the Phoenix organization, because they picked someone else in front of me when I came out of the draft. So, I mean that is probably the only added motivation I have."
Lawson finished the game with 29 points, including 5-5 from three.
Steve Nash passed Oscar Robertson to take over the fifth spot on the all-time NBA assist list. Nash had eight points and 13 assists in this game. The Suns were led by Shannon Brown's 28 points.
The Nuggets beat the Suns all three times they played this season. They shot 55.2 percent from the field and took advantage of 17 Suns turnovers. The Nuggets outscored the Suns 26-2 in fastbreak points.
"They've got a really good team, a deep team, so they create a lot of problems for us and we haven't been able to beat them...They were better than us today for sure," Steve Nash said about the Nuggets who are a match up nightmare for the Suns.
Phoenix will have a practice day on Sunday and then travel to Utah on Monday before facing the Jazz on Tuesday night.