Nuggets Suns Basketball

Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon (50) reacts after being called for an offensive foul against Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder (99) as Crowder celebrates with Suns' Deandre Ayton, middle, and Suns' Devin Booker, right, shouts on the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday in Phoenix. The Suns won 126-97.

The Denver Nuggets' season reached a new low Sunday in the Valley of the Suns.

Denver, playing without stars Nikola Jokic (wrist sprain), Jamal Murray (recovery from knee surgery) and Michael Porter Jr. (back), lost 126-97 after allowing Phoenix to score 48 of those points in the first quarter. It’s Denver’s fourth straight loss after winning the five previous games.

“We had our highs when we won five in a row at home. Now, we have our lows, so we can’t fall apart,” forward JaMychal Green said. “We’ve got to stay together and keep fighting.”

There wasn’t much fight from the Nuggets early. The Suns made 17 of 22 shots in the first quarter, including 7 of 8 from 3-point range, as they took a 20-point lead to the second quarter.

“They were running script offense. They got whatever they wanted,” Nuggets Coach Michael Malone said. “It was too clean, too smooth, and we didn’t make them feel us. We didn’t make them work for it. After that, I thought (the defense) was pretty good.”

The Nuggets would lose two more contributors over the course of Sunday’s game. Aaron Gordon was ejected in the third quarter after being assessed two quick technical fouls. Malone said he and Gordon spoke with the official who ejected the Nuggets’ forward at halftime about a missed call.

“I think probably from there it just kind of built,” Malone said of Gordon’s frustrations. “I thought JaMychal Green did a great job trying to get Aaron away from her, and that was my question to her. He was being escorted away. I understand the first tech, but she felt he deserved the other one, and they tossed him, which is tough when you’re down as many bodies as we are. We just can’t afford to do that.”

Rookie Bones Hyland tweaked his ankle late in the first quarter and was later ruled out for the remainder of the game with a right ankle sprain. He sprained his left ankle a few games prior, but Malone did not seem too concerned with the severity.

“I think he’s all right. It was, I think, a different ankle,” Malone said before suggesting Hyland invest in some braces or tape.

“His ankles the last couple of games have been taking a hit.”

The Nuggets cut the Phoenix advantage to 13 at halftime and closed within nine midway through the third quarter only for the Suns to extend the lead back to 22 points by the end of the third quarter. Gordon’s ejection came during a 17-4 Suns run to end the third quarter. The Suns led by as many as 30 points in the fourth quarter.

Jeff Green had his best scoring night as a Nuggets, finishing with a team-high 19 points. Aaron Gordon added 16 points and 10 rebounds. JaMychal Green added 14 points, while Will Barton III and Monte Morris added 10 apiece to put all five starters in double figures.

“He (Barton) creates a lot of tension. A lot of the eyes are on him now that Joker’s out, Mike’s out and, obviously, Jamal’s been out, so all the attention is going to be on him and AG,” Jeff Green said of Barton and Gordon. “So, I just try to do my part and be aggressive.”

Cameron Johnson scored 22 points off the bench to lead Phoenix, while Deandre Ayton added 21 points. Devin Booker topped four other Suns to score 10 or more points with 17, as Phoenix extended its winning streak to 12 games.

The Nuggets will look to end their four-game losing streak Tuesday in the shadow of the Tualatin Mountains on Tuesday in Portland.

“Losing sucks,” Malone said. “It should hurt. You should be angry. You should be frustrated. You should be embarrassed, whatever it is. We can’t wait for Jamal, Michael and Nikola to come back. We have to fix it, and we can only do that by staying together and having a positive mindset even in light of four losses.”

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