PHOENIX (AP) – The Phoenix Suns totaled 48 points in the first quarter with a smorgasbord of 3-pointers, dunks and mid-range jumpers burying the Denver Nuggets.
Cam Johnson admits it was pretty impressive. He still believes the Suns can do better.
“I think we can reach 50,” Johnson said.
Expectations are understandably high for the Suns these days, who eased to their 12th win in a row by beating the short-handed Nuggets 126-97 Sunday night.
Johnson scored 22 points in his career and Deandre Ayton added 21. The fast-starting Suns were able to rest several of their starters for most of the second half, including veteran points guard Chris Paul, who finished with nine points and 10 assists.
Phoenix shot 17 of 22 (77.3%) from the field during its first quarter, getting 7 of 8 from 3-point range.
“Everything worked,” Booker said.
Johnson, Devin Booker and Jae Crowder all hit two 3-pointers during the early race. The Suns have not lost since Oct. 27 against Sacramento when Harrison Barnes made a 3-pointer at the buzzer. It is the longest winning streak for the franchise since they won 17 in a row in the 2006-07 season.
“The way we moved the ball in the first quarter – shooting and passing and recognizing what they were doing in their covers – it was good to see,” said Suns coach Monty Williams.
Denver star striker Nikola Jokic missed his second game in a row with a sprained right wrist. The Nuggets have lost four straight to fall to 9-8.
“They just made shots,” Nuggets forward JaMychal Green said. “It was like a blur out there. I felt like everything we threw at them didn’t work.”
Denver is one of the few teams to have beaten the Suns this season – and won the opening game 110-98 – but that was when the Nuggets had a healthy Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. (low back pain).
This was very different. The Nuggets became even more concise late in the third quarter when Aaron Gordon was ousted after two quick technicians for arguing with an official after he was called offensively. Jeff Green led the Nuggets by 19 points. Gordon had 16.
The Suns led 100-78 into the fourth.
Denver recovered from the skewed first quarter to reduce Phoenix’s advantage to 73-60 at the break and reduced the deficit to nine points short of the third quarter. But the Suns built their big lead back in a hurry.
“When you give up 48 in the first quarter and you’re down 20, as many as 30 at a time, you spend so much energy trying to get back in the game,” Denver coach Michael Malone said. “It was great to see our boys continue to fight, compete and not just topple over, but you can not allow a team to come out and play like that in the first quarter.”
GOOD AGAINST GOOD
The Suns have a 6-0 record against teams that have been over 0.500 this season. They are 13-3 overall.
Nuggets: Jokic was listed as likely on the injury report but still did not play. … Nuggets also lacked F Zeke Nnaji (right ankle sprain). G Bones Hyland appeared to injure an ankle during the first quarter. He tried to play through the pain of a ball possession, but eventually had to leave the match.
Suns: F / C Frank Kaminsky missed his third game in a row and the team announced that he is out indefinitely with a stress reaction in his right knee. Kaminsky has averaged 10.6 points and 4.6 rebounds and achieved career highs of 31 points this season. … F Abdel Nader (right knee injury) did not play either. 48 The 48 points were the second most in franchise history in the first quarter. They scored 50 against the Nuggets in the first quarter during a game in 1990. … Cam Payne and JaVale McGee both added 10 points from the bench.
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