|Jokic, Nuggets Work Overtime To Beat Suns Again|
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By DAVID BRANDT
PHOENIX (AP) Nikola Jokic had 29 points and 22 rebounds, Jamal Murray hit a difficult 3-pointer to force overtime and the Denver Nuggets outlasted the Phoenix Suns 120-112 in two overtimes Saturday night.
It was the second straight night the teams played extra basketball. The Nuggets won 130-126 in a single overtime Friday after rallying from a 14-point halftime deficit.
Saturday's game was even more entertaining.
Murray hit an off-balance 3-pointer with Deandre Ayton in his face as time expired in regulation. Phoenix's Jae Crowder responded with a 3-pointer with 0.7 seconds left in the first overtime.
By comparison, the final minutes were boring. The Nuggets scored the first five points of the second overtime and never trailed.
The Suns played without All-Star guard Devin Booker for the first time this season. Averaging a team-high 22.9 points, he hurt his left hamstring Friday.
Jokic scored 12 of his 29 points during the two overtimes. Murray added 26. Michael Porter Jr. came off the bench to score 14 points and grab 11 rebounds.
Chris Paul hit a 15-foot jumper with 12 seconds left in regulation to put the Suns ahead 98-95 but Murray responded with an off-balance 3-pointer that splashed through the net as time expired. It was an extremely difficult shot, especially considering a 6-foot-11 Ayton was right in his face.
The first overtime was just as tight. Jokic made a smooth move in the post to get past Frank Kaminsky, making a layup while being fouled with 28 seconds left. He made the free throw to put the Nuggets up 104-102.
The Suns had a chance to take the lead when Abdel Nader was fouled on a 3-pointer from the corner, but he missed two of three free throws. Jokic's two free throws put Denver ahead 106-103 before Crowder responded with a 3 with 0.7 seconds left to tie it and force even more basketball.
It was Crowder's sixth 3-pointer of the night. Crowder and Paul led the Suns with 21 points each. Paul also had 13 assists.
The Nuggets got a big boost from their bench, which added 52 points.
Ayton had 15 points and eight rebounds in the first half as the Suns pushed to a 61-58 halftime lead. Paul had 12 assists before the break, one day after tying a franchise record with 14 assists in the first half.
Nuggets: Murray started despite being listed as questionable with a left shoulder sprain. ... Murray came into the game averaging 20.8 points in his career against the Suns. That's his highest mark against any team.
Suns: F Dario Saric and F/C Damian Jones were both out because of COVID-19 health and safety protocols. ... Rookie Jalen Smith played in his first game since Dec. 26. The No. 10 overall pick out of Maryland had five points in the first half. Smith missed nearly a month with an ankle injury and then spent time on the COVID-19 list. ... Ayton fouled out in the first overtime and Kaminsky struggled on defense against Jokic.
Nuggets: At Dallas on Monday night.
Suns: Host Oklahoma City on Wednesday night.
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