West Notes: Suns, Nuggets, Grizzlies

Suns

Chris Paul finally returned to the lineup in Thursday’s win over the Nuggets, in which the Suns hit 60 wins and clinched the top seed for the entire playoffs.

“We have a special team, it’s that simple,” Paul said. “But just being back for the warmup stuff, the pregame stuff, you know what I mean? There’s nothing like being part of this team. I’m just happy that I could get back.”

“I don’t think one person in our locker room wasn’t thinking about 60 wins and what it meant,” Suns coach Monty Williams said.

“I think getting Chris back tonight gave us a ton of confidence. And (Devin Booker) having one of the best performances I’ve seen him have since I’ve been here … the fact that he’s not in the MVP conversation is just somewhat silly.”

Paul added, “It’s special, man. It’s been 17 years for me and only the second time I’ve been on a team that won 60 games.”

Nuggets

Despite the loss, coach Michael Malone has kept the Nuggets in contention and was rewarded with a contract extension. His current contract runs out at the end of next season.

“It’s so empowering when you have ownership continue to believe in you,” he said. “Obviously, seven years in one place in a lifetime in this business. And to know that we have work to do and we’ll be here for a while longer. is just really, really exciting for me and my family.”

Grizzlies

The Grizzlies steamrolled the Pacers to improve to a remarkable 16-2 minus All-Star Ja Morant, out with a knee injury. Clearly, the Grizzlies are proving they are much more than a one-man show.

“I’m glad I don’t have to go against us,” guard Desmond Bane said. “We’ve got multiple guys that can handle. Multiple guys that can shoot, pass. It makes us that much tougher to guard.”

  • The Grizzlies clinched a playoff spot with the win. “It’s cool, I guess,” Jaren Jackson Jr. said. “But we’ve got to move on. The playoffs are going to come soon. Before we know it, we’re going to be in it. The goal will change. We want to win a series, and then the next one. One game at a time. But the goal is to win a championship.”
  • As we relayed earlier, Morant is expected to miss at least two weeks. (Hoops Wire link.)

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