The Suns were eviscerated from start to finish, getting made into mincemeat on both offense and defense by Denver's Wilson Chandler, Nene Hilario, and Ty Lawson. All three Nuggets payers kept penetrating the paint, forcing turnovers, and corralled both Steve Nash and Aaron Brooks.
Head coach Alvin Gentry's postmortem after the game succinctly summed up the loss.
"The things that we said we had to avoid doing, we didn't do a very good job of [doing] tonight," Gentry explained. "Dribble penetration was one of them, and you can't turn the ball over against them...once they got inside, they just picked us apart with layup, after dunk, after layup."
Phoenix and Denver are currently in the same situation, inasmuch as they're both coping with the loss of major superstars (Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, respectively) to the New York Knicks. Last night's loss, however, clearly illustrated how the Nuggets are a far better team than the Suns, and stand a greater shot at making the upcoming playoffs.
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Denver was firmly in control of the contest from the opening tip-off, coming out strong to take the lead and never looking back. Phoenix rose from the dead and went on a few scoring runs to make things interesting (including a fantastic three-point play from Hakim Warrick in the waning moments of the second quarter) but never got closer than a four point deficit.
Marcin Gortat attempted to be the hero of the loss by providing 14 points, followed in the scoring stats by Jared Dudley with 13 points, but it was Denver's night to shine. The Nuggets began the third quarter by firmly taking control with 13-of-24 shots and plenty of the aforementioned dunking theatrics.
If ever there was a time for Channing Frye to be back in the lineup, it's now.
Phoenix falls to 33-30 with the loss and is now a game-and-a-half behind the Mephis Grizzlies for the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoff race. Their chances at closing the gap aren't gonna be any easier this weekend, as they welcome the Orlando Magic (41-24) on Sunday for an nationally televised afternoon game at US Airways Center. Tip-off is at 12:30 p.m. TV: KNXV Channel 15. Radio: KTAR 620-AM. For more information, visit www.suns.com.