Phoenix Suns surge past Denver Nuggets with Game 1 third-quarter explosion

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Duane Rankin, Arizona Republic
Published 12:46 a.m. ET June 8, 2021 | Updated 12:52 a.m. ET June 8, 2021

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The Phoenix Suns ka-boomed all over the Denver Nuggets just when it seemed Game 1 was getting way from them Monday night.

Down 10 in the third quarter, Phoenix went on a 28-9 run in its 122-105 win over the third-seeded Nuggets to open this best-of-7 conference semifinals series at Phoenix Suns Arena.

The third-quarter run put the Suns up 88-79 going into the fourth as Mikal Bridges scored 11 of his playoff career-high 23 points in the surge.

Bridges scored 13 points in the quarter, going 5-of-5 from the field (2-of-2 from 3).

Then Phoenix had a 6-0 spurt early in the fourth.  Dario Saric started with a jumper and Chris Paul capped it with back-to-back jumpers, with the latter over the much taller (6-10) Michael Porter Jr. that led to Nuggets coach Michael Malone calling a timeout with 10:25 left in the game.

Paul scored 14 of his 21 points in the fourth as he played his best game of this postseason since initially hurting his shoulder in Game 1 against the Los Angeles Lakers in the opening playoff round.

The 16-year veteran added 11 assists and six rebounds in 35 minutes.

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The second-seeded Suns led by as many as 20 in the fourth as Torrey Craig’s two-handed lob finish against his former team off a Cameron Payne pass put the Suns up 102-84 with 8:36 left in the game, and sent the crowd into a roaring frenzy.

The dunk capped a colossal 42-14 marathon run by the Suns. 

Phoenix has now won four consecutive playoff games as it took the final three in closing out the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in six.

Game 2 of this series is Thursday in Phoenix.

Denver lost Game 1 at home to sixth-seeded Portland in the first round, but won four of the next five to take the series in six games.

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