Landale cameo not enough to help Suns outshine Denver
Jock Landale has scored seven points during his 10-minute on-court cameo for Phoenix, but it was not enough to help the Suns rise to victory in Game 1 of the second-round playoff series against Denver.
The 27-year-old from Melbourne was backed up by superstars Kevin Durant (29 points, 14 rebounds) and Devin Booker (27 points) but it was the hometown Nuggets who finished ahead, winning 125-107 on Saturday night.
Booker averaged 37.2 points in the Suns' first-round series win over the Los Angeles Clippers but it was Jamal Murray's 34 points and nine assists that stole the show for the Western Conference's No.1 seeds.
Reigning back-to-back NBA MVP Nikola Jokic added 24 points and 19 rebounds for Denver, while Aaron Gordon finished with 23 points.
"They were just more physical, played with more force," Suns coach Monty Williams said.
"We've got to regroup and do a much better job of playing with pace on offence."
Game 2 is on Monday night in Denver.
This is a different sort of playoff series than two years ago, when the Suns swept the Nuggets in the second round.
Back then, Denver were without the mercurial Murray after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament.
Now healthy, Murray is flashing his 2020 form inside the NBA bubble that helped Denver advance to the Western Conference finals.
"Jamal just continues to add to the legend of playoff Jamal," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.
Leading 106-95 with 7:40 remaining, the Nuggets went on a 14-0 run to put away the game.
Denver led by as much as 25 and improved to 38-7 at home through the regular season and playoffs.
The difference was the 3-point line, where the Nuggets outscored the Suns by a 48-21 margin.
To stop Durant, the Nuggets used a multitude of defenders. He went 12 of 19 from the floor, but one of three on 3-pointers.
"We'll be fine," Durant said.
"We've just got to play with confidence, shoot with confidence and see what happens next game."
Durant now has 4730 playoff points to move closer to passing Karl Malone (4761) in seventh place on the NBA's post-season points leaderboard.
- with AP