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Suns Extend Winning Streak Against Ranked Nuggets

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Suns Extend Winning Streak Against Ranked Nuggets
(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Tonight the Phoenix Suns took on the Denver Nuggets at home in the US Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona.  Winning this game for Denver could mean passing the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference rankings.

But a win for the Suns would mean staying on their longest winning streak of the season and one step closer to knocking out the Dallas Mavericks for the eighth spot in the Western Conference Playoffs.

First Quarter:   The Suns started off the first quarter with great speed and intensity as they quickly took the lead with a 10-0 run before Denver took a time out with eight minutes left.

The majority of the remaining eight minutes was full of back and forth action.  The Suns managed to hold a 10 point lead until the last two minutes of play.  In the last two minutes, Chauncey Billups led his team in an attempt to come back on the Suns, but fell short thanks to a steal by Steve Nash and a great end-of-the-quarter burst by Jason Richardson. 

The Suns held a seven point lead at the end of the quarter.  The score was Phoenix 29, Denver 22.

Second Quarter:   The Suns continued to hold off the Nuggets starting the second quarter.  The back and forth action continued with the Suns edging slowly away from the Nuggets, leading by as many as twelve points.

Every time the Nuggets made a little four or five point run, the Suns returned the favor, stopping the Nuggets from gaining any momentum.  Until the remaining four minutes, the Suns successfully used their speedy offense in combination with a solid defense.

Within the remaining 3:53 in the half, the Suns had a series of mishaps resulting in numerous fouls against them and an insufficient defense.  Ending the quarter with a 3-Point shot by Linas Kleiza, the Nuggets had climbed within three points.  The score at the half was Phoenix 63, Denver 60.

The Leaders at the half for Denver were Kenyon Martin with 13 points, four rebounds, and one steal and Chauncey Billups with 13 points, three rebounds, and two assists.

The leaders for Phoenix were Steve Nash with 11 points, three rebounds, and four assists and Jason Richardson with 11 points, three rebounds, and one steal.

Third Quarter:   After the half the Nuggets continued their rise, taking the lead early in the quarter.  Carmelo Anthony had an amazing quarter, scoring 14 points for a three quarter total of 24 points. The Nuggets out scored the Suns 32-25 this quarter.

Suns' Shaquille O'Neal in foul trouble, did not play the third quarter, which surely did not help the Suns in any way.

The Suns kept pace with the Nuggets after losing the lead and managed to keep the lead to only four pints by the end of the quarter.  The score was Denver 92, Phoenix 88.

Fourth Quarter:   The Suns started off the last quarter with a refreshing three-point shot by Goran Dragic to bring the lead down to one point.

Although the Suns' foul trouble continued into the fourth quarter, now adding Louis Amundson to the list, they held strong to a one point lead for over two minutes.  Adding to this, Nene Hilario received a type two flagrant foul putting him deep in foul trouble.

With 7:20 left, the lead changed back in the Nuggets' favor and after a following streak of bad shots, Billups manages to push out a three-pointer off of a steal by Kenyon Martin.  Grant Hill, having a good game tonight fought back with a drive to the hoop, keeping it a one-point game.

From this point until almost the end of the game, it went back and forth between up three points to up one point for the Nuggets.  With 1:28 left, Shaquille O'Neal ties the game at 113.

After a foul on Kenyon Martin with 1:06 left, Grant Hill takes a quick shot to put the Suns up by two, then makes a free throw after being fouled by Chauncey Billups with 50.2 seconds left.

Nash scored the final two points at the foul line securing the victory over the Denver Nuggets.  The final score was Phoenix 118, Denver 115.

Despite foul trouble, the absence of both Amar'e Stoudemire (eye surgery) and Leandro Barbosa (hyper extended knee), and the inexplicably low shooting percentage of Matt Barnes, the Suns played a tough game.

Grant Hill and Jason Richardson both played solid games tonight.  Hill ended tonight with 23 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists.  Richardson had 22 points, five rebounds, and one assist.  Strong play tonight by Jared Dudley who had 12 points, eight rebounds, and one assist.

Carmelo Anthony lit up in the second half of play. He finished tonight with 29 points, two rebounds, and two assists.  Also both having great nights were Chauncey Billups and Kenyon Martin.  Billups had 20 points, four rebounds, and eight assists, while Martin had 18 points, nine rebounds, and four steals for the night.

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