May 12, 2023 - Sports

Blowout loss to Denver ends Suns' postseason and title hopes

A basketball player looks up while standing with his hands on his hips.

Kevin Durant reacts during the fourth quarter of the Phoenix Suns' blowout loss to the Denver Nuggets on Thursday. Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

What can we say, Suns fans? It happened again, and it's a tough morning for all of us.

The big picture: The high hopes that the Phoenix Suns took into the playoffs collapsed in spectacular fashion as the Denver Nuggets trounced them at home, winning 125-100 to win the series in six games.

  • For the second straight year, the Suns' postseason ended with a blowout in front of the home crowd in the Western Conference semifinals.

The bottom line: Denver started pummeling Phoenix early, and the Suns simply couldn't catch up or do anything to stop them.

  • The Nuggets put up 81 in the first half and led by 30 at halftime.

Zoom in: Not only were the Suns without Chris Paul for the fourth straight game, big man Deandre Ayton sat out with a rib contusion suffered during the team's Game 5 loss on Sunday.

1 big postseason: Devin Booker was positively heroic throughout the playoffs, putting up stat lines that haven't been seen since Michael Jordan in 1990.

  • Booker averaged 33.7 points per game and scored a total of 371 in 11 playoff games.
  • He formed a potent duo with Kevin Durant, who averaged 29 per game in the playoffs.

Yes, but: Last night was Booker's first bad game of the postseason — 12 points on 4-13 shooting.

  • The only bright spot was Cameron Payne, who scored a career-high 31 points while starting at point guard for Paul.

What they're saying: “It sucked. It was a bad feeling. It was embarrassing,” Durant said. “They came out and hit us in the mouth and we couldn’t recover."

Between the lines: New owner Mat Ishbia mortgaged the team's future for a shot at winning now, trading Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson and future draft picks to the Brooklyn Nets for Durant.

  • The excitement around Durant was palpable and the blockbuster trade quickly breathed new life into the Suns' flagging championship hopes.
  • Phoenix was 8-0 when Durant played going into the playoffs.

What's next: The Suns' title chances in future years are now tied to the 38-year-old Paul and the 34-year-old Durant.

  • The team also gave Ayton, the target of frequent criticism throughout the playoffs, a big contract extension last year, locking him up with a four-year, $133 million deal.
  • Brooklyn also gets Phoenix's first-round draft picks this year and in 2025, 2027 and 2029.

Of note: That was Al McCoy's last game as the "Voice of the Suns." He is retiring after 51 years announcing their games.

Jeremy's thought bubble: I was in the stands at Footprint Center for last year's Game 7 debacle against the Mavericks, and that was still worse than what I saw last night.

  • But last night was bad. I expected Denver to win the series, but I thought the Suns would at least even up the series at home and make the Nuggets beat us in Game 7.
  • The Durant trade seemed like the right move at the time and I was as excited as anyone, but now a lot of people will be second-guessing it.
  • I made sure to tune into McCoy's broadcast during the fourth quarter so I could at least hear one last, "Shazam!" Thanks for the memories, Al.

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