Suns

Every time a window of opportunity opened for the Nuggets Friday night in game three of the Western Conference semifinals, the Suns slammed it shut like a dad reminding everyone the damned air conditioning was on.

>Full screen 1/44 SLIDES © David Zalubowski, AP
Phoenix Suns react after a basket by Chris Paul against the Denver Nuggets during the second half of Game 3 of an NBA second-round playoff series Friday, June 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
2/44 SLIDES © David Zalubowski, AP
Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson, right, blocks a shot by Denver Nuggets forward JaMychal Green during the second half of Game 3 of an NBA second-round playoff series Friday, June 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
3/44 SLIDES © David Zalubowski, AP
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, right, listens to referee Ben Taylor during the second half of Game 3 of the team's NBA second-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns on Friday, June 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
4/44 SLIDES © David Zalubowski, AP
Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone, back, makes a point to referee Ben Taylor during the second half of Game 3 of the team's NBA second-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns on Friday, June 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Slideshow continues on the next slide 5/44 SLIDES © David Zalubowski, AP
A fan shouts during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA second-round playoff series between the Denver Nuggets and the Phoenix Suns on Friday, June 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
6/44 SLIDES © Isaiah J. Downing, Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) drives to basket against Denver Nuggets guard Monte Morris (11) and guard Austin Rivers (25) in the third quarter during game three in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
7/44 SLIDES © Isaiah J. Downing, Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) shoots the ball over Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) in the third quarter during game three in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
8/44 SLIDES © Isaiah J. Downing, Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (right) controls the ball while defended by Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) in the third quarter during game three in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
9/44 SLIDES © Isaiah J. Downing, Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) reacts after missing a free throw in the third quarter against the Phoenix Suns during game three in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Slideshow continues on the next slide 10/44 SLIDES © Isaiah J. Downing, Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) is fouled by Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (left) in the third quarter during game three in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
11/44 SLIDES © Isaiah J. Downing, Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams gestures during the third quarter against the Denver Nuggets during game three in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
12/44 SLIDES © Isaiah J. Downing, Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) attempts a shot during the third quarter against the Phoenix Suns during game three in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
13/44 SLIDES © Isaiah J. Downing, Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) controls the ball while defended by Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon (50) in the second quarter during game three in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
14/44 SLIDES © Isaiah J. Downing, Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) reacts after a play with Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) in the second quarter during game three in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Slideshow continues on the next slide 15/44 SLIDES © Isaiah J. Downing, Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) collides with Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) in the second quarter during game three in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
16/44 SLIDES © Isaiah J. Downing, Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) reacts after being helped up by guard Austin Rivers (25) in the second quarter against the Phoenix Suns during game three in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
17/44 SLIDES © Isaiah J. Downing, Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) is helped up by guard Austin Rivers (left) in the second quarter against the Phoenix Suns during game three in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
18/44 SLIDES © Isaiah J. Downing, Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) grabs his leg after a play in the second quarter against the Phoenix Suns during game three in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
19/44 SLIDES © Isaiah J. Downing, Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Monte Morris (11) controls the ball as Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) defends in the second quarter during game three in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
20/44 SLIDES © Isaiah J. Downing, Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Torrey Craig (12) shoots the ball as Denver Nuggets forward JaMychal Green (0) defends in the second quarter during game three in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
21/44 SLIDES © Dustin Bradford, Getty Images
DENVER, CO - JUNE 11: Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns directs the offense in the first half in Game Three of the Western Conference second-round playoff series at Ball Arena on June 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
22/44 SLIDES © Dustin Bradford, Getty Images
DENVER, CO - JUNE 11: Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns looks on in the first half of Game Three of the Western Conference second-round playoff series at Ball Arena on June 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
23/44 SLIDES © Dustin Bradford, Getty Images
DENVER, CO - JUNE 11: Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns shoots under coverage by Michael Porter Jr. #1 of the Denver Nuggets in Game Three of the Western Conference second-round playoff series at Ball Arena on June 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
24/44 SLIDES © Dustin Bradford, Getty Images
DENVER, CO - JUNE 11: Torrey Craig #12 of the Phoenix Suns shoots as he is defended by JaMychal Green #0 of the Denver Nuggets in Game Three of the Western Conference second-round playoff series at Ball Arena on June 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
25/44 SLIDES © Dustin Bradford, Getty Images
DENVER, CO - JUNE 11: Will Barton #5 of the Denver Nuggets celebrates after a basket against the Phoenix Suns in Game Three of the Western Conference second-round playoff series at Ball Arena on June 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
26/44 SLIDES © Dustin Bradford, Getty Images
DENVER, CO - JUNE 11: Will Barton #5 of the Denver Nuggets celebrates after a basket against the Phoenix Suns in Game Three of the Western Conference second-round playoff series at Ball Arena on June 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
27/44 SLIDES © Dustin Bradford, Getty Images
DENVER, CO - JUNE 11: Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns is defended by Paul Millsap #4 of the Denver Nuggets in Game Three of the Western Conference second-round playoff series at Ball Arena on June 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
28/44 SLIDES © Dustin Bradford, Getty Images
DENVER, CO - JUNE 11: Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns directs the offense against the Denver Nuggets in Game Three of the Western Conference second-round playoff series at Ball Arena on June 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
29/44 SLIDES © Dustin Bradford, Getty Images
DENVER, CO - JUNE 11: Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets watches the action from the bench area in Game Three of the Western Conference second-round playoff series at Ball Arena on June 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
30/44 SLIDES © Dustin Bradford, Getty Images
DENVER, CO - JUNE 11: Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns directs the offense against the Denver Nuggets in Game Three of the Western Conference second-round playoff series at Ball Arena on June 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
31/44 SLIDES © Dustin Bradford, Getty Images
DENVER, CO - JUNE 11: Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets drives to the basket and is defended by Mikal Bridges #25 and Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns in the first half in Game Three of the Western Conference second-round playoff series at Ball Arena on June 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
32/44 SLIDES © Dustin Bradford, Getty Images
DENVER, CO - JUNE 11: Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets drives to the basket and is defended by Mikal Bridges #25 and Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns in the first half in Game Three of the Western Conference second-round playoff series at Ball Arena on June 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
33/44 SLIDES © David Zalubowski, AP
Phoenix Suns forward Torrey Craig, left, drives to the basket past Denver Nuggets forward JaMychal Green during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA second-round playoff series Friday, June 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
34/44 SLIDES © David Zalubowski, AP
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul drives as Denver Nuggets guard Facundo Campazzo is slowed by screen by Suns forward Dario Saric during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA second-round playoff series Friday, June 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
35/44 SLIDES © David Zalubowski, AP
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, right, pulls in a rebound as Denver Nuggets forward Will Barton defends during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA second-round playoff series Friday, June 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
36/44 SLIDES © David Zalubowski, AP
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, left, loses control of the ball while driving between Denver Nuggets forward Paul Millsap, right, and guard Monte Morris during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA second-round playoff series Friday, June 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
37/44 SLIDES © David Zalubowski, AP
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker drives the lane past Denver Nuggets guard Austin Rivers during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA second-round playoff series Friday, June 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
38/44 SLIDES © David Zalubowski, AP
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic shoots as Phoenix Suns forward Dario Saric defends during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA second-round playoff series Friday, June 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
39/44 SLIDES © David Zalubowski, AP
Denver Nuggets forward Will Barton reacts after hitting a 3-point basket against the Phoenix Suns during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA second-round playoff series Friday, June 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
40/44 SLIDES © David Zalubowski, AP
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, left, and forward JaMychal Green, front, defend against Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA second-round playoff series Friday, June 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
41/44 SLIDES © David Zalubowski, AP
Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone questions referee Sean Wright about a non-call during the first half of Game 3 of the team's NBA second-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns on Friday, June 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
42/44 SLIDES © David Zalubowski, AP
Phoenix Suns guard Cameron Payne is defended by Denver Nuggets forward Will Barton during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA second-round playoff series Friday, June 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
43/44 SLIDES © David Zalubowski, AP
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, left, passes the ball as Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon defends during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA second-round playoff series Friday, June 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
44/44 SLIDES © David Zalubowski, AP
Phoenix Suns guard Cameron Payne directs teammates during the first half against the Denver Nuggets in Game 3 of an NBA second-round playoff series Friday, June 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
44/44 SLIDES

It’s what good teams do, and the Suns did it time and again in a 116-102 victory that gave them a 3-0 series lead.

It was an offensive rebound by Deandre Ayton when the Suns needed it most. And one from Mikal Bridges. It was a three-pointer by Cam Payne just seconds after entering the game late in the third quarter. It was an assist by Devin Booker. It was Dario Saric saving a ball from going out of bounds. And it was multiple jumpers in the fourth quarter by Chris Paul from his sweet spot, in or near the right side of the lane.

Jun 11, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) is fouled by Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (left) in the third quarter during game three in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports © Isaiah J. Downing, Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports Jun 11, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) is fouled by Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (left) in the third quarter during game three in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

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All repelled whatever threats that could be mustered by the Nuggets, who had their hearts, minds and other body parts questioned by their coach, Michael Malone, after a blowout loss in game two.

The Nuggets came out swinging. The Suns took a few blows, and through their play, asked: That all you got?

"The guys are just playing for each other," Suns coach Monty Williams said, "and playing with a great deal of energy and force. 

"We talked about it (Friday) morning, having a great deal of poise and balance. On their home floor, they're going to have runs, but I thought we just played with a relentless attitude. That's been who we are, who we have been all season long."

It wasn’t the prettiest game the Suns have played this season, or even in this series. The Nuggets finished with 14 more offensive rebounds. They took away the three-point shots from the corner the Suns had used so effectively in game two. Nikola Jokic, the league's MVP, finished with 32 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists.

More: Denver Nuggets vs. Phoenix Suns second-round 2021 NBA playoffs schedule


Video: 'Eyes on the prize': Phoenix Suns looking to sweep Denver Nuggets after Game 3 road win (Arizona Republic)

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Ayton brought a box score to his post-game interview, and his eyes widened when he read that stat line.

"Jokic had 20 rebounds!" he said. "That's insane. And 10 assists. I did not know that. That's amazing. Yep, league MVP."

Yet, it wasn't enough. The Suns have far more depth than the Nuggets, and most anyone else. It adds to their faith that someone will "do the next right thing," as Williams puts it, at the appropriate time.

That happened throughout the season and in Friday night's game.

At the beginning of the second quarter, for instance, the Nuggets trimmed a 10-point deficit to four. Then Ayton pulled down an offensive rebound, found Torrey Craig for an open three-pointer and the Suns led by seven.

On the Nuggets' next possession, Ayton stopped a spin move by Paul Millsap, rebounded and handed to Paul, who pushed the ball upcourt, tossed it to Booker, who penetrated. The Nuggets didn't rotate properly and Booker found Craig for a layup.

The Suns' lead suddenly was nine points and Malone called timeout.

In the third quarter, the Suns led by seven with the Nuggets threatening. Jae Crowder missed a three-pointer, but Bridges flew in from the opposite corner and was fouled going for the rebound.

More: Phoenix Suns' 2021 NBA championship odds skyrocket after 3-0 start vs. Denver Nuggets

The Suns inbounded the ball, which found its way to Bridges. He drove hard and laid it up around Jokic. The Suns' lead was now nine.

There were moments like this throughout. Payne hitting a step-back three right after checking in with 1:38 left in the third quarter. Booker following with a bank shot with two seconds left. Then Paul conducted his personal shoot-around in the fourth quarter.

Again and again, the Suns patted the Nuggets on their heads and said, "nice try."

The Suns have won six consecutive playoff games. They haven't been seriously challenged in the fourth quarters of the last five. Booker and Paul attributed that to the team's depth and cohesiveness.

"When things get tough, we come together ever more," Booker said.

"Me and Book were talking about it after the game," Paul said. "Cam Payne hit the step-back three. Then Cam Johnson hit the three. We really play as a team, and we built that trust over the season. It's a fun way to play."

It’s how the Suns disposed of the Lakers in round one. It's why they lead this series 3-0 and can finish it Sunday evening. And as we've seen in recent weeks, the Suns are pretty good at closing things.

More: So you're newly all-in on the Phoenix Suns? Here's what you need to know to join the fun

Reach Kent Somers at Kent.Somers@gannett.com. Follow him on twitter @kentsomers

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Phoenix Suns show their mettle by repelling every Denver Nuggets threat in Game 3

Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nba/phoenix-suns-show-their-mettle-by-repelling-every-denver-nuggets-threat-in-game-3/ar-AAKXVtm

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Phoenix Suns 2021 NBA championship odds skyrocket after 3-0 start vs. Denver Nuggets

Source:USA Today

Phoenix Suns 2021 NBA championship odds skyrocket after 3-0 start vs. Denver Nuggets

Phoenix Suns vs. Denver Nuggets Game 4 preview, odds, picks, predictions: Who wins?

Source:USA Today

Phoenix Suns vs. Denver Nuggets Game 4 preview, odds, picks, predictions: Who wins?