Murray helps Nuggets hang on to beat Suns 108-107 in OT
DENVER — Jamal Murray scored seven of his 27 points in overtime and the Denver Nuggets regrouped to beat the Phoenix Suns 108-107 in their home opener Friday night after Ricky Rubio tied the game late in regulation when he was fouled on a half-court shot.
Murray hit two free throws with 19.4 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Nuggets the lead. Devin Booker took a last-second shot for Phoenix, but was blocked by Torrey Craig. It was Craig’s fourth block of the game.
Nikola Jokic finished with 23 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists to help the Nuggets escape.
Rubio extended the game in improbable fashion when he dribbled up the court and launched a 3-pointer as Malik Beasley grabbed his arm with 1.8 seconds remaining in regulation. He made all three free throws.
In overtime, Murray took over. His game-winning free throws came soon after Gary Harris swatted the ball away from Frank Kaminsky down low.
Phoenix had Rubio, Aron Baynes and Kelly Oubre Jr. all foul out in OT. Oubre led the team with 23 points.
The Suns were 31 of 32 from the line in the game.
Before Beasley’s unnecessary foul, he was having quite a fourth quarter — scoring eight straight points for Denver during a critical stretch. Jerami Grant also came up big in the fourth quarter with a crowd-energizing, one-handed dunk off a missed 3-pointer.
The Nuggets have improved in each season under coach Michael Malone, going from 33 wins his first season to 40, 46 and 54 last season when the team earned the No. 2 overall seed in the West. A big reason for their success was an NBA-best 34-7 mark at home. Malone has challenged them to improve that record.
“Let’s hold ourselves to an even higher standard,” he said.
Suns big man Deandre Ayton missed the first of 25 games after being suspended Thursday for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program after testing positive for a diuretic. Baynes had 15 points in place of the second-year center.
Trailing by as many as 14 points, the Nuggets took their first lead of the game, 57-55, on Jokic’s three-point play at 4:16 of the third quarter.
Suns: F Cameron Johnson missed a second straight game with left calf soreness. “He’s close,” Suns coach Monty Williams said.
Nuggets: Denver had 12 blocked shots. … Beasley finished with 17 points. … Denver was misfiring from long range all game after making 18 3-pointers in a season-opening win at Portland. The team was 7 of 27 against Phoenix.
Altitude TV purchased air time with a local station to broadcast the Nuggets home opener. Altitude Sports remains in negotiation with three former Altitude cable and satellite carriers — Comcast, DIRECTV and DISH Network. The companies have dropped Altitude from its lineups. Altitude also broadcasts the Colorado Avalanche.
Booker described Ayton as a “force” that will be missed . Ayton, the No. 1 overall pick last season, averaged 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds as a rookie.
“You have to view it as an injury,” Booker said of missing Ayton. “Everybody goes through injuries during the season where teammates miss games. It’s the next-man-up mentality.”
Williams holds Malone in high esteem. The feeling is mutual.
Malone was a member of Williams’ staff in 2010-11 when Williams was the head coach in New Orleans. Malone remembers an important lesson Williams imparted — family first.
“He was kicking me out of office, telling me to go home,” Malone recalled. “He understood the importance of family.”
Suns: Host Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night. The Suns have lost 12 straight to the Clippers.
Nuggets: At Sacramento on Monday. The Nuggets were 3-0 against the Kings last season.AlertMe