Jamal Murray had a hell of a game in the series opener, scoring 34 points on 13 of 24 shooting, but his performance in Game 2 was the exact opposite. The Canadian guard struggled from the field and shot 3 of 15 overall and 0 of 9 from beyond the arc to finish with 10 points, four rebounds and eight assists, which meant someone had to make up for his lack of scoring.
Well, it’s a good thing that the Nuggets have the reigning MVP on their roster. Nikola Jokic more than made up for Murray’s struggles by finishing with 39 points, 16 rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block while shooting 17 of 30 from the field. More importantly, the Joker scored 26 points in the second half, which kept the Denver Nuggets afloat multiple times when the Phoenix Suns threatened to take control of the game.
Jokic showed his ability to score on all three levels, leaving DeAndre Ayton flummoxed as a good effort on defense from the Suns’ starting center still wasn’t enough to contain the Serbian big man. No one else broke the 20-point mark on the Nuggets, with Aaron Gordon coming closest with 16. In a low scoring game that finished with a 97-87 scoreline, Jokic’s performance was more than enough to carry the day.
Jokic was appreciative of his teammates in his postgame interview, but he knows that he carried the day.
The Suns got 35 points out of Devin Booker, who showed his frustration late in the game as he got in a jawing match with Bruce Brown.
Kevin Durant also had 24 points and eight rebounds but he shot 10 of 27 overall and 2 of 12 from three-point land. The rest of the Suns were only able to muster up a total of 28 points, including a paltry four points from their bench. Their lack of depth is well-known, but the reserves shooting 2 of 16 overall will never be good enough to win against a much better-balanced opponent.
The Suns will have another complaint about free throws coming up for sure, because they took only five foul shots compared to 21 for the Nuggets.