DENVER — Sitting on the bench with three first-half fouls, Phoenix Suns guard Gerald Green was stewing.
“I was getting mad, but my teammates were telling me I had the whole second half to play,” Green said.
He made the most of it. Green scored eight of his career-high 36 points in overtime, and the Suns beat the Denver Nuggets 112-107 Tuesday night.
Guard Goran Dragic had 21 points and 14 assists, and forward P.J. Tucker added 13 points and 11 rebounds for Phoenix (31-21).
The Suns, a surprise playoff contender in a year when they were expected to land in the lottery, swept the season series from the Nuggets (24-28).
“Something about playing these guys,” Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek said. “It’s been four crazy games. We’ve come out on top but quite easily could have lost all four to these guys.”
It looked as if the Suns would win easily Tuesday until they faltered in the second half. They recovered to send the game into overtime, where they pulled away late to win it.
Green had a lot to do with it after halftime. He played 21 of the 29 minutes in the second half and overtime, scoring 27 points in the time.
“When Gerald gets on those rolls, he’s big for us because he can make those shots,” Hornacek said. “He’s not afraid to take shots when the game was on the line. He made a couple of big ones for us.”
Guard Evan Fournier had career highs with 25 points and eight rebounds, and forward Kenneth Faried added 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets, who lost their fifth straight when they ran out of steam in overtime.
After a cold start to the extra period, Green scored four straight, and Dragic’s dunk gave Phoenix a 105-103 lead. Denver forward Wilson Chandler missed 3-pointer with 20 seconds left, and Green hit two free throws to make it a four-point game.
A three-point play by Fournier made it 107-106, but the Suns sank five free throws to seal it.
“It’s tough, especially because we had it,” Fournier said. “We had the game with 35 seconds (left in regulation) and gave up two offensive rebounds.”
The Nuggets’ lack of depth showed the past five games. Without a true point guard due to an injury to speedy Ty Lawson, the offense has sputtered. On Tuesday, Denver trailed by as many as 14 early, hurt by a 3-for-17 start from 3-point range.
However, Fournier hit two straight from long range and scored 14 points over a 10-minute stretch. He gave the Nuggets a much-needed spark after they fell behind by 11 with 3:29 left in the third quarter.
“I was just trying to be aggressive, trying to be myself,” Fournier said. “I had some open shots, I was getting some good opportunities.”
The Suns missed 11 straight shots spanning the third and fourth quarters, and Denver took advantage, scoring 16 straight to take an 81-76 lead.
Denver led 85-78 when Green got hot. He hit two free throws and two 3-pointers to get the Suns within 87-86 with 7:05 left.
The teams went back and forth, and Denver scored seven straight to take a 94-90 lead with 3:03 left.
Fournier hit a free throw with 50.5 seconds left to make it 99-94, but forward Channing Frye’s 3-pointer off an offensive rebound with 35.8 seconds remaining gave Phoenix hope.
After Fournier missed a runner in the lane, Suns forward Markieff Morris, who had 13 points and 12 rebounds, hit a put-back with 5.7 seconds left to tie it.
“Markieff, great anticipation where the rebound is going to come off and put it back in,” Hornacek said.
Chandler’s turnaround baseline jumper at the end of regulation was off, sending the game into overtime.
Dragic scored 16 first-half points to help Phoenix take a 52-51 lead at the break.
NOTES: Nuggets G Ty Lawson missed his third straight game with a fractured left rib. Coach Brian Shaw said Lawson is starting to feel better but is still unable to absorb any contact. Shaw said there is no timetable for Lawson’s return. … Phoenix F Markieff Morris averaged 23 points in the first three games against Denver this season. He posted a career-high 28 in a win over the Nuggets in November. … The Nuggets had only 10 players available for the game. Four were out because of injury and the other, G Andre Miller, has been away from the team since Jan. 1 after a sideline outburst directed toward Shaw. … The last time the Suns swept the season series from the Nuggets was 2004-05.
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