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Suns Lose Control, Trail Nuggets at Halftime

© Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

After besting the Los Angeles Clippers, the Phoenix Suns got a taste of star-powered competition on Saturday. Phoenix had a tough roadblock with the Clippers, who were without both of their superstar forwards.

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Now, against a healthy Denver Nuggets team, the true strides and continuity needed for Phoenix couldn’t of been more visible.

Denver was able to match Phoenix in terms of runs in the first quarter, but the second quarter saw a scoring outburst that the Suns simply couldn’t defend.

As such, Phoenix trailed at the end of the first half 68-51.

Transition Defense in Shambles

Even from the mouth of head coach Monty Williams, the Suns’ transition defense wasn’t the best during the first half. Against a lesser team, the defense Phoenix displayed would have sufficed.

Yet the Nuggets were tied for the No.1 transitional offense in the regular season, and that was on full display from the start of the game.

The Suns couldn’t find an answer for fast breaks from the Nuggets. They failed to close out quick enough, usually leading to clear lanes to the basket or open three-pointers for Denver.

Durant Trending Upward

Though the Suns conceded to the Nuggets in the second quarter, Durant’s contributions in the first quarter didn’t go unnoticed.

Durant started the game off aggressively. He scored 15 points in the first half, shooting 7-of-9 from the field. He was quick to make short work of Aaron Gordon and Jeff Green as two of his notable defenders.

Aside from scoring, he also had two blocks in the first quarter, one notably being a block on Nikola Jokić. He ended the first half with three blocks.

Phoenix has to find a way to, much like Denver, have everyone involved. The Nuggets were concerned with defending the pick and roll from the Suns, but it also looks like Phoenix has that to worry about in Denver as well.

Denver finished the half shooting 52 percent from three-point range, which certainly can make things go downhill even more if it continues in the second half.

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