PHOENIX (AP) — Devin Booker scored 47 points, Kevin Durant added 39 and the Phoenix Suns beat the Denver Nuggets 121-114 on Friday night to cut Denver’s lead to 2-1 in their Western Conference semifinal series.
Booker — who came into the game averaging 35.4 points in these playoffs — had another massive offensive effort, shooting 20 of 25 from the field, including 5 of 8 from 3-point range. Durant shot just 12 of 31 from the field, but made 14 of 16 free throws.
The Suns will try to even the series in Game 4 on Sunday in Phoenix.
The Suns took a 90-88 lead into the fourth quarter, retaking the lead after the Nuggets erased a 15-point halftime deficit. Phoenix scored the first nine points of the fourth — including the final two on Durant’s fastbreak dunk — to push their advantage to 99-88.
They wouldn’t trail in the fourth quarter.
Denver’s Nikola Jokic — who finished second in the MVP voting on Tuesday to Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid — finished with 30 points, 17 assists and 17 rebounds.
Jamal Murray led the Nuggets with 32 points, while Michael Porter Jr. added 21 points and 12 rebounds.
The Suns had a 67-52 halftime lead, but coughed up that advantage in a hurry. Murray made a layup to give Denver a 79-78 lead with about five minutes remaining in the third.
The Suns put Cameron Payne in the starting lineup to take the place of 12-time All-Star Chris Paul, who suffered a strained left groin in the Game 2 loss and didn’t play on Friday. Payne — a playoff hero for a few games two seasons ago when Paul was out — scored seven points, including a big 3-pointer early in the fourth.
Suns coach Monty Williams also shook up the bench rotation, giving Terrence Ross, Jock Landale and TJ Warren more minutes. Landale finished with six points and nine rebounds, while Warren hit a couple crucial buckets in the final minutes to help the Suns keep the lead.
Booker scored 27 points in the first half on 12-of-15 shooting to push the Suns ahead 67-52 by halftime. Durant added 21, including 11 points on free throws.
Nuggets: Jokic had 10 assists in the first half. … Had a 51-41 rebounding advantage.
Suns: Durant hit just one of his first nine shots from the field. … Deandre Ayton had just four points and nine rebounds. He was benched in favor of Landale late in the game.
David Brandt, The Associated Press