Denver hoped for a winning streak to foment after beating the West’s eighth seed in the Clippers on Tuesday, with the former coming off a two-game slide.
The challenge was heightened for the Nuggets’ when their next contest was a matchup against the West’s top-seeded Phoenix Suns, which resulted in a loss for Denver, 140-130.
Phoenix’s dominance made the Nuggets’ 10-point loss a mild result for the Nuggets to take.
Paul played 30 minutes in his long-awaited return from a thumb injury.
Even with the returning star power of Paul, D-Book stole the show.
Booker scored a whopping 49 points on Thursday, with only six of those points coming off of threes. He shot 16 of 25 from the field — also adding four rebounds and 10 assists.
Denver superstar Nikola Jokic was efficient all evening, going 9-of-10 for 28 points.
Nuggets point guard Bones Hyland continued his strong appearances off the bench, scoring 23 points. Hyland played more minutes than veteran point guard Austin Rivers, whose defense and goose egg on offense kept Denver’s backcourt outmatched by Phoenix’s dangerous duo of Booker and Paul.
“To beat that team, you have to play almost perfect basketball,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone responded in the postgame interview. “We did it for stretches tonight, but down the stretch they showed why they’re the best team in the NBA.”
The Nuggets are fighting for control of the sixth seed (43-31) in the West, while Phoenix (60-14) holds a nine-game lead over the second-best record in the NBA.