Suns, Nuggets meet amid star guards’ injury troubles

Field Level Media

December 01, 2023 at 7:58 pm.

The Phoenix Suns are without star guard Devin Booker when they attempt to take down the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets on Friday night.

Booker sprained his right ankle in the third quarter of Wednesday’s 112-105 road loss against the Toronto Raptors. He went back into the contest after the injury and was visibly limited. He scored a season-low eight points on 2-of-12 shooting in 33 minutes.

Booker indicated afterward that he might not be available and Phoenix made it official on Friday morning.

Fellow Suns star Kevin Durant is among the players concerned that Booker might miss even more time.

“We probably would’ve told him to sit down and get his ankle right, but he just loves the team so much, he loves helping us win,” Durant said of Booker. “Hopefully, the next couple of days, get some treatment and his ankle gets better.”

Meanwhile, the Nuggets may have dodged another blow to star guard Jamal Murray, who returned from his 11-game absence Wednesday due to a hamstring injury.

In the opening minutes of the game, Murray landed awkwardly on his ankle. He ended up scoring 16 points in 22 minutes but was highly frustrated after the 134-124 home win over the Houston Rockets.

“The hamstring’s fine,” Murray said afterward. “I’ve worked enough to get it back to strength. Now, it’s just another thing. I’ve got to work on that and hopefully I’ll be ready.”

Murray and forward Aaron Gordon (heel) are listed as questionable to face Phoenix. Gordon could miss his fourth straight game.

Denver is 7-1 this season when Murray has played. The club went 6-5 during the 11 games he missed.

Nuggets star Nikola Jokic recorded 32 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists against the Rockets for his seventh triple-double of the season and 112th of his career. Jokic had sat out Monday’s road win against the Los Angeles Clippers due to back pain.

One of the main benefactors of Jokic’s pinpoint passing against Houston was forward Michael Porter Jr., who established season highs of 30 points and seven 3-pointers. He also grabbed 10 rebounds.

“This is pretty easy basketball when you’ve got someone that good with the floater, but also that good at passing,” Porter said.

Denver matched its season high for points in the win over the Rockets and is averaging 126.3 during a three-game winning streak.

The visit to Phoenix is the beginning of a stretch in which the Nuggets play five of six games on the road.

The Suns had won a season-best seven straight games prior to the loss to the Raptors. The home game against Denver is followed with another one against the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday.

Durant scored 30 points against Toronto and he has reached that mark in six straight games.

However, Durant was just 11-of-30 shooting against the Raptors after making 60.6 percent of his attempts (60 of 99) over the previous five games.

“I don’t feel like I’m ever out of rhythm,” Durant said of his shooting woes. “I just missed shots. I got the shots that I wanted. …

“I just think the lid was on the basket. I feel like we got good looks. We just didn’t finish.”

The Suns received a good effort from big man Jusuf Nurkic, who had 19 points, 14 rebounds and six assists. Nurkic has collected 10 or more boards in five of the past six games.

The Suns and Denver split the four-game series last season.