Martin's heroics lift Nuggets over Suns in OTJan 16, 2009 - 8:19 AM DENVER (Ticker) -- The Denver Nuggets had been unable to put the Phoenix Suns away the entire second half Thursday night. But five minutes of overtime gave them just enough time to put the game out of reach.
The Nuggets scored the first four points of the extra session and Kenyon Martin knocked down a backbreaking 3-pointer with 30 seconds remaining en route to a 119-113 victory over the Suns.
Denver appeared to take control twice in the second half, but failed to consistently get stops, giving the Suns no trouble as they stormed right back. The Nuggets wouldn't let it happen again in overtime. Chauncey Billups and Anthony Carter knocked down back-to-back jumpers on the first two possessions of the extra session and Billups answered Steve Nash's long jumper with a three-point play to extend the lead to five.
"We just focused on defense," J.R. Smith said of the Nuggets' overtime play. "We didn't let them have any easy shots, we contested everybody. Thankfully, Steve Nash didn't come out big for them tonight."
After Nash turned the ball over with just under two minutes to play, Billups found Martin for an easy bucket to push the advantage to 112-105. The Suns knocked down four free throws to cut their deficit to three, but Martin responded in alarming fashion. The veteran power forward pulled up from the arc - for the second time on the night - and connected as a stunned Nuggets crowd erupted with a mixture of bewilderment and jubilation.
The final 30 seconds turned into a free-throw shooting contest as the Nuggets held on. Billups finished with 26 points - going 13-of-14 from the line - and Martin added 24, eight boards and a career-high seven steals as Denver snapped Phoenix's three-game winning streak.
"I thought we were aggressive on both ends during OT," Billups said. "In fact, if we weren't aggressive in the fourth quarter we probably wouldn't have made it to overtime."
After falling behind by six at the break, Denver came out more assertively in the third quarter, opening up the half on a 9-0 run. J.R. Smith capped the spurt with a 3-pointer as the Nuggets suddenly pulled ahead, 65-62. That lead ballooned to eight as Martin buried his first three and Smith stripped Nash and finished with a dunk to make it 77-69.
"They've got great offensive players and got some things going early. I think the first six or seven possessions of the second half gave us confidence," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "In the second half, our best offense was our defense."
However, the Suns fought back and pulled even by the end of the quarter.
Neither team could maintain any momentum in the fourth. After the Suns took a three-point edge, the Nuggets answered with an 11-0 run ... only to see their newfound lead quickly evaporate with Phoenix's 10-0 surge. The Suns held a 103-100 advantage with just under two minutes remaining before Smith forced overtime with a 3-pointer from the corner to tie things up with 1:23 remaining.
"We had some opportunities to win the ball game but it just didn't happen so we are disappointed about it," Suns coach Terry Porter said.
Smith missed a potential game-winner a minute later and Hill had a shot to win it for the Suns, losing the ball on a drive to the basket in the waning seconds. Both Hill and Porter felt the veteran forward was fouled on the play, but there was no whistle.
"I think we did everything possible to win this game tonight," Suns guard Jason Richardson said. "We had adversity, we had foul trouble and we played hard. We've got another game tomorrow we have to get ready for."
Hill led the Suns with 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting, Amare Stoudemire added 21 and Nash had 20 and 14 assists.
DENVER 119 FINAL IN 1ST OT
Jan 16 1:52 AM
DENVER 103 END OF 4TH QTR GOING INTO OVERTIME
Jan 16 1:28 AM
DENVER 82 END, 3RD QTR
Jan 16 12:52 AM
DENVER 56 HALFTIME
Jan 16 12:01 AM
DENVER 26 END, 1ST QTR
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