That didn't set too well with the Suns.
"Forty-six was way too much," Sun's rookie point guard De'Anthony Melton said. "Anybody that comes in here and drops 46 on our home court is child or disrespectful."
Phoenix Sun's guard Elie Okobo (2) drives Denver Nuggets center Mason Plumlee during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019, in Phoenix. (Photo / Rick Scuteri) (Photo: Rick Scuteri, AP)
Make that very disrespectful.
Upset and focused, Phoenix played stifling defense, made life tough for Murray and took down the best team in the Western Conference, 102-93, before 15,246 fans.
"We were the aggressors today, not them," Suns rookie 7-footer DeAndre Ayton said. “That's the main part of it. We've got to keep doing that. That was a big win against a great team. Opened the league's eyes. Opened our eyes. We know we have it. We've just got to keep doing it and be consistent. ”
Kelly Oubre Jr. matched his career high for the second time in three games with 26 points and ayton added 22 and 13 boards in leading the suns (11-33) to their second win in the last three games without Devin Booker, who remains out with back spasms.
"We got to play a little bit harder," said Josh Jackson, who scored 15 points in starting for Booker. "Obviously, we got a lot of scoring to make up for with being out, but I feel like we're together doing a great job of making up or that." "Thought it was going to be easy"
Scoring 52 points in the paint and racking up 49 bench points to Denver's 25, Phoenix never relinquished the lead after taking with 1:25 left in the first quarter.
The Suns lead as many as 18 in the third quarter .
"That's big time, that's where we're growing at," Oubre Jr. said. "Teams come in here and there to us in amount of times. Felt good to be on the other side." 19659005] Denver (28-13) may have felt it was going to do that to the Suns again after racing to a 25-point lead in its 122-118 victory last week in Phoenix.
"I think we thought it was going to be easy," Nuggets center Nikola Jokic said. "I'm going to make this pass. I'm going to try this, I'm going to try that. " I think we played their record, not their personnel. Those guys are playing hard right now. "
Very hard right now.
" They played with us tonight, and it was apparent throughout the game – loose balls, 50-50 balls, "Nuggets coach Michael Malone said Phoenix Suns forward TJ Warren (12) drives Denver Nuggets forward Paul Millsap in the second half, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo / Rick Scuteri) ” width=”180″ data-mycapture-src=”https://www.gannett-cdn.com/presto/2019/01/13/PPHX/b9ea8bff-90e7-4e99-8f10-adf7722f1a0e-6.jpg” data-mycapture-sm-src=”https://www.gannett-cdn.com/presto/2019/01/13/PPHX/b9ea8bff-90e7-4e99-8f10-adf7722f1a0e-6.jpg?width=288&height=400″/>
Phoenix Suns forward TJ Warren (12) drives suits Denver Nuggets forward Paul Millsap in the second half, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo / Rick Scuteri) (Photo: Rick Scuteri, AP)
Sun's interim general manager James Jones has told the Suns to win the "ugly part of the game" to compete.
They did that – and won.
The Suns still have the worst record in the West. ] One win isn't changing that, but they've beaten Milwaukee, Boston, Denver and San Antonio, which would all make the playoffs in the season end d today.
Still a major work in progress, the latest win over the Nuggets can be seen as a sign of growth for Phoenix.
“It shows that we're on the up and up honestly and that we can compete with the best of the best, especially in the West, ”Melton said.
Stay defensive minded with Booker?
Defense defined Saturday's win as the Suns used a collective effort in forcing Murray took take tough shots in a 4-of-17 shooting night as he finished with just 12 points.
"We were a lot more aggressive," Melton said. “We really made it (it was a point of emphasis) on him.”
What has become more apparent is Phoenix is playing a higher level from earlier in the season. The addition of Oubre has helped tremendously as he has aggressive and multiple guard positions.
Defending plays in Jackson's fighter mentality. Melton and Mikal Bridges are solid defenders, especially for rookies. TJ Warren is taking more pride competing on that and Richaun Holmes battles bigger guys and more than holds his own. Jan 12, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) Denver Ms Nuggets forward Paul Millsap (4) at the second half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. (Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports) Jan 12, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) Denver Ms Nuggets forward Paul Millsap (4) at the second half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. (Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY SPORTS) (Photo: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY SPORTS)