Booker stays hot, Suns win Game 3 against Nuggets

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) calls a play during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA...
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) calls a play during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA basketball Western Conference semifinal game against the Denver Nuggets, Friday, May 5, 2023, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)(Matt York | AP)
Published: May. 5, 2023 at 9:55 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Devin Booker played like an MVP for the third straight game and the Phoenix Suns took Game 3 121-114 in the Western Conference semifinals against the Denver Nuggets in Phoenix on Friday night. Denver leads the series 2-1 with Game 4 on Sunday in Phoenix.

With two minutes left, the Suns were up five when T.J. Warren hit a floating jumper. Jamal Murray missed a 3 and Booker had a lay-up to push the lead to nine. Denver couldn’t recover.

Booker was aggressive and efficient on the offensive end. He scored 47 points on 20-25 shooting, including five 3s. He also had six rebounds and nine assists. Booker didn’t go to the free throw line until 6.6 seconds left in the game. Kevin Durant was the only other Suns player to go to the line, making 14-16. He finished with 39 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.

The Suns bench struggled in Denver, scoring in single digits as a group. But in the Valley of the Suns, they scored 22. Denver’s bench scored 20.

Deandre Ayton had one of his worst nights in the playoffs, scoring only four points on 2-6 shooting with nine rebounds. He looked lost and fans booed him for failing to hustle. Head coach Monty Williams sat Ayton for the final five minutes of the game.

To start the third, Denver switched up their defense and that led to a 13-4 run. It cut the Suns’ lead to just six. Phoenix couldn’t get the offense going and the Nuggets outscored the Suns 36-23.

Booker capped off a 19-3 run in the middle of the second quarter with a three-pointer, pushing the Suns’ lead to 52-40 with 4:45 left in the half. Their lead would extend to 16 before ending the half at 67-52. Suns outscored the Nuggets 38-21 in the second quarter. Booker and Durant combined for 48 points in the first half.

With a free throw in the second quarter, Durant moved into seventh place all-time for playoff scoring.

Things weren’t looking good for the Suns early. Booker had 18 points in the first quarter on 8-10 shooting but the Suns were down 31-29. That was in part to nine second-chance points for Denver compared to Phoenix’s zero.