PHOENIX — Two years in the past, the Denver Nuggets have been embarrassed by the Phoenix Suns in a postseason sweep.

This time, it was the Nuggets who dished out the embarrassment.

Nikola Jokic scored 32 factors in one other triple-double, Jamal Murray added 26 and the Nuggets superior to the Western Convention finals for the primary time since 2020 by beating the short-handed Suns 125-100 in Recreation 6 on Thursday evening.

“After we defend, after we rebound, after we run, after we share the ball, we imagine we’re one of the best crew within the NBA,” Denver coach Michael Malone stated. “And tonight, we confirmed it.”

The Nuggets will play within the convention finals for the primary time since they misplaced to the Lakers in 5 video games within the Florida bubble in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They’ve by no means reached the NBA Finals.

The highest-seeded Nuggets used a 23-2 run in the course of the latter a part of the primary quarter to take a 44-26 lead and by no means seemed again. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — averaging 9.5 factors within the playoffs — scored 17 within the first quarter whereas Jokic added 14.

Nikola Jokic, who scored 32 factors, shoots a jumper in the course of the Nuggets’ 125-100 series-clinching Recreation 6 win over the Suns.
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“We have been the aggressors the entire sport,” Jokic stated. “Particularly the primary half. We have been simply actually good.”

Caldwell-Pope completed with 21 factors. Jokic shot 13 of 18 from the sphere and added 12 assists and 10 rebounds. It was his fourth triple-double of the postseason in 11 video games.

“He exhibits (his greatness) each evening,” Murray stated.

Denver’s offensive onslaught continued within the second because the lead grew to 81-51 by halftime, resulting in boos from Suns followers as gamers made their solution to the locker room.

The second half was primarily an afterthought.

“It was deflating to see them rating like that and operating down the ground getting straightforward buckets,” Suns coach Monty Williams stated. “That falls on my shoulders not having us able to play on the highest degree within the largest sport of the yr.”

Cameron Payne scored 31 factors for Phoenix, hitting 7 of 9 3-pointers. Kevin Durant added 23.

The Suns have been taking part in with out injured starters Deandre Ayton and Chris Paul. Ayton sustained a rib contusion in Tuesday’s Recreation 5 whereas Paul has been out the previous 4 video games with a strained left groin.

Phoenix was eradicated within the Western Convention semifinals in a blowout at residence for a second straight season regardless of a blockbuster commerce deadline deal for Durant, a 13-time All-Star and one of many sport’s most prolific scorers.

The 34-year-old had some good moments within the playoffs, however made simply 1 of his first 10 photographs on Thursday because the Suns fell into an enormous gap.

Kevin Durant wears a dejected expression during the Suns' season-ending loss.
Kevin Durant wears a dejected expression in the course of the Suns’ season-ending loss.
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“It was a foul feeling,” Durant stated. “It was embarrassing. They got here out and bought us within the mouth and we couldn’t get better.”

Suns guard Devin Booker was sensible in many of the postseason, averaging 36 factors per sport earlier than Recreation 6. However the three-time All-Star completed with simply 12 factors on Thursday.

The house crew gained the primary 5 video games of the sequence till the Nuggets broke by in Recreation 6.

Denver’s Murray was listed as questionable earlier than the sport with a non-COVID sickness, however performed nicely. Murray bought a giant hug from Malone as he checked out of the sport for the ultimate time. The purpose guard stated he slept many of the day till the sport.

Deja vu

For the Suns, the loss was eerily much like Recreation 7 of final yr’s Western Convention semifinals.

Phoenix, with the NBA’s finest file, fell behind Dallas by 30 factors by halftime and ended up shedding 123-90 to finish its season.

“I want it might have been at the least nearer,” Payne stated. “In fact, I need to win, however this simply doesn’t look good.”

Within the shot clock period, the house crew has trailed by 30-plus factors in a possible playoff elimination sport simply 3 times. Phoenix is now accountable for two of them. The opposite was the Bucks in 2015.