Phoenix Suns vs. Denver Nuggets Pick & Prediction JANUARY 11th 2023

Stadium: Pepsi Center Denver
Logo Phoenix Suns
Logo Denver Nuggets

226.5o -103
-14.5 -110



The Phoenix Suns had lost six in a row and nine of 10, and were facing a Golden State team with Stephen Curry back in the lineup. Add to that center Deandre Ayton was unable to go for Phoenix and a Suns loss seemed likely. Instead, Phoenix stunned the Warriors on Tuesday night to stop their downward spiral.

The Suns' reward? A trip to Denver to face the Western Conference-leading Nuggets on Wednesday night.

It will be the second of four meetings between the teams and the first since Denver won in overtime on Christmas night. The Nuggets' Nikola Jokic had a 41-point, 15-rebound, 15-assist triple-double in that one, and the two-time MVP hasn't slowed down, either. He took only five shots -- and made all of them -- for his league-leading 11th triple-double of the season in a win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night.

He had a season-high 16 assists in the 122-109 victory.

"He's always looking to pass over score," said Jamal Murray, who scored a season-high 34 points in the game.

Murray took another big step in his return to full health in the win over the Lakers. He was more aggressive than he had been earlier in the season and he showed some swagger in reaching his season high in points.

"It's not just the scoring I look for," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. "I look for where is his effort level and focus on the defensive end? Where is his rebounding at? I mean, he's a big, strong guard. Where is his playmaking at?

"On top of all those things, just a body language and energy and attack mindset and swagger, whatever you want to call it. But you can see when he's got it."

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Phoenix has a little swagger after beating the defending champs on the road. In addition to Ayton sitting, the Suns don't have Devin Booker (groin), Chris Paul (hip) or Cameron Payne (foot) on the trip. Landry Shamet (hip) didn't play but could play Wednesday night.

The numerous injuries forced coach Monty Williams to use his 14th different starting lineup of the season but it fuels his competitiveness.

"That's part of what drives you," he said. "When people look at your team and they doubt you or they say you don't have this or have that, it's like yeah, I want to."

Booker has been sidelined for all but four minutes since scoring 58 points against New Orleans on Dec. 17. He sat out the next three games but returned for the first matchup with Denver, only to leave early in the first quarter.

He is expected to miss at least two more weeks.

The Nuggets can extend their home winning streak to 12 games by beating a short-handed opponent for the second straight game. LeBron James sat out Monday's game with a left ankle injury and Anthony Davis is on the injured list.

Denver has learned not to take a wounded team lightly, however.

"My message to my players was, it's not about who's available for them, it's us, protecting our home court," Malone said.

--Field Level Media

Phoenix Suns
Denver Nuggets

Phoenix Suns vs. Denver Nuggets Recap JAN 11TH 2023

Nikola Jokic had 21 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists, Bones Hyland also scored 21 and the host Denver Nuggets beat the Phoenix Suns 126-97 on Wednesday night.

Jamal Murray scored 16 points before leaving early in the fourth with a left ankle sprain. Zeke Nnaji and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 15 each, Aaron Gordon added 12 and Michael Porter Jr. finished with 11 for the Nuggets, who have won 12 straight at home.

Torrey Craig scored 16 points, Josh Okogie had 14, and Dario Saric, Jock Landale and Damion Lee finished with 11 each for Phoenix, which has lost 10 of 12.

The Suns played without center Deandre Ayton for the second straight game, another blow to their depth. Devin Booker (groin), Chris Paul (hip) and Cameron Payne (foot) aren't with the team on this road trip that continues in Minnesota on Friday night.

The Nuggets jumped out to a 27-16 lead late in the first quarter, but Phoenix made a run. Okogie had a 3-pointer and a pair of fadeaway jumpers, Landale made one from deep to cut the deficit to 29-26.

Hyland scored five straight points but Okogie's jumper made it 34-28 after one period.

Murray opened the second with a 3-pointer, Hyland hit two from behind the arc and Nnaji made two free throws in a 7-0 Denver run.

Duane Washington Jr. hit a 3-pointer that got the Suns within 11 but Murray and Hyland hit from long range and Jokic had a putback to make it 52-33. Craig's 3-pointer ended the Nuggets' run, but Hyland stayed hot from deep with two more to give Denver a 63-40 lead.

The Suns closed out the quarter on a 14-7 run to trail 70-54 at halftime.

Saric hit a jumper to open the third quarter, but the Nuggets started to pull away. Porter scored nine points and Jokic had a couple of buckets in a 16-2 run that made it 86-58. Denver took a 31-point lead with 1:15 remaining in the third.

Phoenix got within 21 in the first minute of the fourth but never mounted a threat.

--Field Level Media