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Devin Booker pours in 47 as Suns top Nuggets in Game 3

May 5, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) celebrates with teammates against the Denver Nuggets in the second half during game three of the 2023 NBA playoffs at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Devin Booker matched his career playoff high of 47 points and Kevin Durant added 39 as the Phoenix Suns captured a pivotal 121-114 home win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 3 of their series on Friday night.

Booker made 20 of 25 field-goal attempts and added nine rebounds, six rebounds and three steals as the fourth-seeded Suns cut their deficit to 2-1 in the Western Conference semifinals. Durant added nine rebounds and eight assists to go with a shaky 12-of-31 shooting performance for Phoenix.

Jamal Murray had 32 points, six rebounds and five assists and Nikola Jokic recorded 30 points and 17 rebounds while setting a playoff career best with 17 assists for top-seeded Denver. Michael Porter Jr. made six 3-pointers while contributing 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Nuggets.

Game 4 in the best-of-seven series is Sunday night at Phoenix.

The Suns played without Chris Paul (groin), who also might miss Game 4.

Phoenix shot 50.5 percent from the field, including 9 of 28 (32.1 percent) from 3-point range. Booker hit on 5 of 8 3-pointers.

The Nuggets connected on 44.3 percent of their shots and were 10 of 30 (33.3 percent) from behind the arc. Denver’s Bruce Brown scored 11 points.

Denver, which trailed by 11 points early in the fourth quarter, crept within five on Jokic’s tip-in with 8.6 seconds left. Booker made two free throws — his only attempts of the game — to wrap it up with 6.6 seconds remaining.

The Nuggets trailed 67-52 at halftime before opening the third quarter with a 27-11 burst. Murray scored back-to-back baskets to cap the surge and give Denver a 79-78 edge with 5:03 remaining.

Durant answered with a trey to put Phoenix back ahead. The Nuggets were later up by three before the Suns rattled off the next 14 points — the final five of the third quarter and the first nine of the fourth — to take a 99-88 advantage with 9:43 remaining in the contest.

Denver missed 13 of its first 14 field-goal attempts in the final stanza until Jokic’s layup with 5:59 left cut the Suns’ lead to 103-96.

A three-point play by Jokic pulled Denver within 109-104 with 3:04 remaining. The Nuggets again were within five after a three-point play by Porter with 2:05 left before T.J. Warren got a favorable bounce on a jumper and Booker drove for a layup to make it 116-107 with 1:05 to go.

Booker scored 27 first-half points and Durant added 21 as the Suns held the 15-point lead at the break. Booker scored 18 points in the opening period and Durant tallied 18 in the second.

Murray had 17 first-half points for Denver.

–Field Level Media