NBA playoffs

Chris Paul, Suns crush Nuggets for 2-0 lead

Chris Paul, Suns crush Nuggets for 2-0 lead

POINT GOD. Suns guard Chris Paul dishes out the ball in Game 2 action against the Nuggets.

Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

The Suns prove too hot yet again for newly crowned MVP Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets

Chris Paul recorded 17 points and 15 assists without committing a turnover, helping the Phoenix Suns roar to a 123-98 victory over the visiting Denver Nuggets to take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinals on Wednesday night, June 9 (Thursday, June 10, Manila time).

Devin Booker scored a team-best 18 points and collected 10 rebounds for the Suns, who have won five consecutive postseason games. Phoenix won the first two games of this series by an average of 21 points.

Denver’s Nikola Jokic, the NBA’s newly selected Most Valuable Player, had 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists despite sitting out the entire fourth quarter.

Game 3 of the best-of-7 series will be played Friday night in Denver.

Mikal Bridges scored 16 points and Deandre Ayton added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Suns, who shot 47.9% from the field and were 18-of-38 (47.4%) from three-point range.

Jae Crowder tallied 11 points and reserve Torrey Craig had 10 for Phoenix.

Denver’s Will Barton played for the first time since injuring his right hamstring on April 23, and he scored 10 points in 16 minutes. Michael Porter Jr., who played despite a back ailment, had just 11 points on 3-of-13 shooting, making just 2-of-9 from three-point range.

Paul Millsap contributed 11 points for the Nuggets, who made 40% of their field-goal attempts, including 14-of-43 (32.6%) from behind the arc.

Phoenix led 52-42 at halftime and then exploded in the first two minutes of the third quarter.

Crowder buried two triples and Ayton scored the other four points during a 10-1 burst that boosted the lead to 19.

Paul later knocked down a jumper to increase the Suns’ lead to 69-48 with 6:57 left in the stanza. The advantage reached 22 late in the quarter before Phoenix settled for an 86-67 cushion entering the fourth.

Paul drained a three-pointer to push the Suns’ lead to 102-75 with 8:36 left.

Cameron Johnson and Bridges hit back-to-back treys to increase the margin to a game-high 31 just before the midway point of the quarter.

Earlier, Booker scored 13 points to help Phoenix hold the 10-point halftime lead. Jokic scored 15 prior to the break for Denver.

Dario Saric knocked down a three-pointer for the final points of the first quarter to give the Suns a 25-21 lead. He connected on another trey to give Phoenix a 35-25 advantage with 8:32 remaining in the half. –