One game after not having had a lead against Dallas, the Suns never lost the lead against Denver, going wire-to-wire (for the second time this season) in a 117-103 victory in front of 16,211 at US Airways Center Sunday.
Channing Frye scored 18 first-half points on his way to a 30-point night, the seventh of his career. He shot 12-of-16, including 5-of-7 from three.
“He was hot from the start,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said.
Four other Suns players scored in double figures, including three off the bench. Markieff Morris led the reserves with 16 points while Leandro Barbosa added 13 and Marcus Morris 10.
The Suns bench out-performed the Nuggets bench in points (55-35), rebounds (24-10) and assists (11-1).
“Those bench guys came in and played hard and maybe even wore some of their starters down a bit,” Hornacek said.
The Suns are 3-0 against the Nuggets, and with one game remaining (February 18 at Denver) could potentially sweep the season series for the first time since the 2004-05 season.
The Suns outscored the Nuggets 33-24 in the fourth quarter, in which Frye was the lone starter to see any action and he was only on the court for 2:34.
Frye, by the way, became the first Suns player to shoot 75 percent or better while also making at least five three-pointers since Vince Carter (13-17 FG, 5-7 3FG) did so on March 8, 2011.
Rookie Alex Len posted season-highs with nine points, six rebounds, three field goals and 16 minutes.
The Suns have won 17 straight home games when scoring 110 or more points.
The Suns lost sight of Wilson Chandler in the third quarter. He scored 11 points, including three 3-pointers in a 13-4 Nuggets run that pulled Denver to within five (75-70) after the Suns had taken what was at the time their largest lead of the game, 71-57.
Miles Plumlee, the Suns leading rebounder (8.7 per game) grabbed four in 24 minutes. He has 12 rebounds in 72 minutes over the past three games.
The Nuggets have allowed at least 116 points in four straight games. “Once again our defense failed us,” head coach Brian Shaw said.
STAT OF THE GAME
The Suns improved to 7-0 when shooting 50 percent or better (.505, 46-91) and 21-2 when posting a higher field goal percentage than their opponent (the Nuggets shot 43.9 percent).
HE SAID IT
“I work on a little bit of this, a little of that and kind of be a jack-of-all trades, like a cornucopia of goodness,” Frye said.
“Every time he touches it you think he is going to make it so that was obviously big for us,” Hornacek said of Frye’s performance.
When Barbosa checked in at 5:38 of the first quarter, it marked his first Suns appearance at US Airways Center in more than three-and-a-half years (1,332 days, to be exact). His last Suns home game was May 29, 2010 — Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals.
Suns assistant GM Pat Connelly’s brother, Tim, is the executive vice president of basketball operations and general manager of the Denver Nuggets.
Nuggets guard Randy Foye missed the game because of a stomach virus, giving Evan Fournier his first start of the season.
Luis Scola returns.
The former Suns starting forward spent his one and only season with Phoenix a year ago before he was traded to Indiana for Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee and a lottery-protected first-round pick in the offseason.
Scola and the Pacers — who have won two straight in the series — visit Wednesday, the third game of a season-long, five-game Suns homestand. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning 30 minutes earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.