Nuggets 108, Suns 93
PHOENIX -- Kosta Koufos scored Denver's first 13 points and finished with a career-high 22, Cory Brewer added 20 points, and as the Nuggets ran their winning streak to nine games with a 108-93 win over the Phoenix Suns on Monday night.
Ty Lawson added 19 points and six assist for the Nuggets, who are 19-4 over their last 23 games and have bookend nine-game winning streaks to mark the surge. Denver won nine straight from Jan. 20-Feb. 9. The Nuggets latest streak continued Monday thanks to balanced scoring, with most of the damage occurring inside against the height-challenged Suns.
Wesley Johnson had 18 points, Marcus Morris added 16 and Hamed Haddadi had a career-high 13 for the Suns, who played without centers Marcin Gortat and Jermaine O'Neal. Phoenix gave up 74 points in the paint to the bigger, more athletic Nuggets.
After losing 19 of their first 30 road games, Denver (43-22) has won four straight away from home. The Nuggets now go home -- where they are 29-3 and have won 13 straight -- to face the New York Knicks on Wednesday.
The Nuggets went inside from the outset. Koufos scored all of his initial 13 points from three feet and in, and Denver scored 20 of its first 23 points in the paint on layups and dunks.
The Suns (22-42) kept pace with 10 early points from Morris during a 12-2 run. Phoenix ran off a 10-0 run early the second thanks to 3-pointers by Michael Beasley and Jared Dudley. A three-point play by Haddadi gave the Suns a 41-35 lead with 7:34 left in the half.
The Nuggets answered with eight straight points -- including a highlight-reel, three-quarter-court pass from Lawson to Kenneth Faried for the alley-oop jam -- and ended the half on a 17-7 run to take a 53-50 lead at intermission.
The Suns got as close as 72-70 on a Dudley 3-pointer with 3:10 left in the third quarter, but the fourth belonged to the Nuggets, who led by as many as 18.
NOTES: Before the game, Denver coach George Karl praised Lawson, who is averaging 24.2 points a game and shooting 53.3 percent over the last 14 games. "He's playing super," Karl said. "Everyone can see that, and with a lot of confidence. Ty is our engine and we will ride him if he's playing well." ... The Suns have only 22 wins this season, but they have been giant killers. Of the six teams with 40 or more wins so far this season, the Suns have beaten four of them: Denver, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Memphis Grizzlies and the San Antonio Spurs. Only the Oklahoma City Thunder (4-0) and the Miami Heat (2-0) avoided their grasp among the league's top clubs. ... How big was the offensive differential? Denver ranks third in the NBA in scoring and has topped 100 points in 23 of the past 24 games. It averaged 110.9 during the nine-game winning streak. When the Suns scored 107 points in their win over the Houston Rockets on Saturday, it was the first time they had topped the century mark at home since Dec. 19 (121 vs. Charlotte). ... Suns center Jermaine O'Neal (sick daughter) is back in town, and he could play Wednesday in Houston.
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