Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/13/12
PHOENIX - With three new starters and nine new players, the Phoenix Suns are still getting to know each other, and the shooting touch they expected to have has yet to materialize. But the hard work and teamwork aspects of the equation are keeping things interesting eight games into the season. Goran Dragic led seven Phoenix players in double figures with 21 points, and the Suns collected 15 offensive rebounds and 23 second-chance points against the NBA's top rebounding team while beating the Denver Nuggets 110-100 Monday night. Shannon Brown had 19 points off the bench and Michael Beasley added 16 for the Suns, who snapped Denver's four-game winning streak and beat the Nuggets for the first time in the last seven meetings, dating back to November 2010. "I think we've competed and played extremely hard all year. We haven't played well, but we play hard," Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said. "Our execution can be better, our shooting has to improve, but we work hard. I can't remember the last time we had more offensive rebounds than (Denver) did when we played them. We've struggled with that team ... to get a win was really important." The Suns have trailed by at least 10 points in seven of their eight games this season, including all four at US Airways Center. But a 10-point deficit in the first quarter took only a few minutes to erase, and a 13-2 run over the final four minutes of the game put it away. The Suns hit seven of 12 three-pointers, four of them by Dragic, to overcome a 54 percent shooting night by the Nuggets. Andre Iguodala had 17 points and JaVale McGee added 16 for the Nuggets, who had 15 turnovers, which the Suns turned into 17 points on the other end. Denver outrebounded an opponent for the seventh time in eight games (43-40), but Phoenix went to the offensive glass hard. "They did a good job of picking us apart on defense," said Iguodala, who was 6-for-8 from the field and hit all three of his three-pointers. "Defensively, we've been a lot better over the last four games, and tonight we just had some mental lapses in our coverage. We were too lax in letting them get wherever they wanted to go. We didn't disrupt them enough." The Suns led by seven midway through the fourth quarter before the Nuggets rallied, using a pair of McGee dunks and Danilo Gallinari's four-foot bank shot to draw to within one at 97-96 with 3:59 left. But the Suns ran away from there, with Dragic's fourth three-pointer in five tries for the night starting the final push and his 19-footer with 1:38 stretching the Phoenix lead to 106-98. The Suns ended the game on a 13-4 run. "We had three turnovers after we cut it to one in the fourth quarter," Denver coach George Karl said. "You can't take away your possession by making mistakes. Fundamental things that we usually win ... they kicked us on the offensive boards and they converted our turnovers into more points than we did. I thought we were just unfocused and soft defensively." Jared Dudley had 15 points, Luis Scola and Marcin Gortat 12 each and Markieff Morris a season-high 11 off the bench as the Suns, the second-worst three-point shooting team in the league coming into the game, finally found the range on Monday. "We were facing the No. 1 rebounding team in the league, and we knew we had to seal those guys and not let them get the rebounds," said Dragic, who had seven assists, four rebounds and two steals. "It doesn't matter if you're a small guy; you have to go in there and get the rebound." NOTES: The Nuggets are playing 17 of their first 23 games on the road this season and will have played more than 40 percent of their road schedule after playing in Minnesota on Dec. 12 ... Wilson Chandler returned to the Denver lineup after missing four of the last five games with a hip injury ... Despite some bouts with sloppy play, the Suns came into Monday averaging only 14 turnovers a game, sixth-best in the NBA. Phoenix has averaged 14 turnovers or fewer only three times in their 45-year franchise history ... Five different Suns (Dragic, Brown, Beasley, Scola and Gortat) are averaging 12 points or better in the first seven games, and each has led the team in scoring at least once.
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