PHOENIX — Ty Lawson scored 22 of his 29 points during Denver’s 49-point second quarter, and the depleted Nuggets overwhelmed the Phoenix Suns 144-106 on Friday night in the preseason finale for both teams.
Denver, which also played Thursday night, rested starters Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups and Nene — and was without three other injured players, dressing only the minimum of eight. Then, during the second quarter, the Nuggets lost J.R. Smith with a left quadriceps contusion. Still, they completely outplayed the Suns.
Shelden Williams added 27 points for Denver, rookie Gary Forbes had 25, Arron Afflalo 24, and Anthony Carter 20.
Denver finished its exhibition season 5-3, its seventh winning record in the past eight years. Phoenix wound up 2-6, the same as in 2003, and only its second losing mark in 22 years.
Jared Dudley topped the Suns with 17 points, Jason Richardson and Earl Clark had 13 apiece, and Steve Nash contributed 11 points and 12 assists.
The cat-quick Lawson put on a dazzling exhibition during the second quarter as the Nuggets outran, outhustled and outshot the defenseless Suns. He hit 6-of-7 field goal attempts, including 3-of-4 3-point shots, and all seven of his free throws, including three when he was fouled on a 3-point attempt.
Lawson’s scintillating performance enabled the Nuggets to build a 78-61 halftime lead.
Before Lawson’s outburst, Afflalo helped Denver take charge early, scoring 14 points, including its first 10, as the Nuggets rolled to a 31-25 first-quarter lead.
By halftime, Lawson and Afflalo were joined in double figures by Williams, with 15 points, and Carter, with 11. At that time, the white-hot Nuggets were hitting 62.2 percent of their shots (28 for 45). They made 72.7 percent (16 for 22) in the second period.
Denver reeled off the first 10 points of the third period, completing a 13-0 run bridging the second and third quarters, and by the end of the period had increased its lead to 113-85. Forbes and Williams led the way with nine points apiece during the Nuggets’ third-quarter, when they continued their remarkable accuracy, connecting on 12-of-17 shots (70.6 percent).
The Nuggets’ final field goal percentage was 64.1 (50 for 78).
Brandon Roy scored 23 points and LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 in the Portland Trail Blazers’ 90-83 exhibition victory over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night.
Portland outrebounded Denver 47-35 to help the Blazers finish the preseason 3-4. Denver (4-3) has one preseason game remaining, Friday night in Phoenix.
Roy, playing 43 minutes, was 6 of 20 from the field, but was 9 of 10 on free throws. Aldridge went 6 of 10 from the field and grabbed nine rebounds in 38 minutes.
Marcus Camby had 17 rebounds for Portland.
Carmelo Anthony led Denver with 21 points, going 6 of 23 from the field. Arron Afflalo scored 14 points, and Ty Lawson had 11.
Denver started strong, outscoring Portland 18-10 in the first 8 minutes. The Blazers slowly rallied, getting their first lead early in the second quarter at 27-26 on Roy’s 3-pointer. Portland led 46-43 at halftime.
The Blazers began to take over after the break, when hey outscored Denver 13-2 during the first 6:23 of the third quarter to take a 59-45 lead. But Denver hit eight consecutive free throws and went on a 10-0 run to make the game interesting going into the fourth quarter.
Portland led by as many as 12 points during the fourth quarter, but Anthony scored seven consecutive points to help pull the Nuggets to 83-81 with 3 minutes remaining. Camby hit two free throws and Rudy Fernandez made a 3-pointer in the final 90 seconds for Portland.