Nuggets sail past Suns in Game 6 and advance to the Western Conference Finals

Nikola Jokic scored 32 points in another triple-double, Jamal Murray added 26, helping the Denver Nuggets advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2020, defeating the short-handed Phoenix Suns 125-100 in Game 6 on Thursday night By defeating

Denver’s win comes two seasons after the Nuggets were embarrassed by the Suns in a second-round postseason sweep. This time it was the Suns who flew away on their home floor to end the season for the second year in a row.

The Nuggets will play in the Conference Finals for the first time since losing to the Lakers in five games in the Florida bubble during the COVID-19 pandemic. They have never reached the NBA Finals.

The top-seeded Nuggets used a 23–2 run in the latter half of the first quarter to jump out to a 44–26 lead and never looked back. Kentavius ​​Caldwell-Pope – averaging 9.5 points in the playoffs – scored 17 in the first quarter, while Jokic added 14.

Caldwell-Pope finished with 21 points. Jokic shot 13-of-18 from the field and added 12 assists and 10 rebounds,

Denver’s offensive push continued in the second, as the lead increased to 81–51 at halftime, prompting Suns fans to boo the players as they marched to the locker rooms. The second half was really an afterthought.

Cameron Payne scored 31 points for Phoenix, hitting 7 of 9 3-pointers. Kevin Durant added 23.

The Suns played without injured starters Deandre Ayton and Chris Paul. Ayton suffered a rib injury in Game 5 on Tuesday, while Paul has missed the last four games with a left groin strain.

Phoenix was eliminated at home in the Western Conference Semifinals for the second consecutive season despite a blockbuster deal with Durant, a 13-time All-Star and the game’s leading scorer. The 34-year-old had some good moments in the playoffs, but made only one of his first 10 shots on Thursday as the Suns fell into a big hole.

Suns watcher Devin Booker was stellar for most of the season averaging 36 points per game on 60% for game 6. But the three-time All-Star finished with only 12 points on Thursday.

The home team won the first five games of the series until the Nuggets broke through in Game 6.

For the Suns, the loss was very similar to Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals last year.

Phoenix, with the NBA’s best record, trailed Dallas by 30 points at halftime, eventually losing 123–90 to end the season.

In the shot clock era, the home team has trailed by more than 30 points in a potential playoff elimination game only three times. Phoenix is ​​now responsible for two of them. The other was the Bucks in 2015.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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