Suns-Nuggets Preview

While Devin Booker is providing the Phoenix Suns with a reason to be optimistic, Kenneth Faried is living up to his tremendous potential for the Denver Nuggets.

Booker will try to continue his emergence for the visiting Suns on Thursday night as Faried looks to help the Nuggets chase a season high-tying third straight win.

In the wake of losing starting guards Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight to injury, the Suns have to like what they've seen since giving their rookie guard an extended look.

After breaking out by averaging 20.1 points over a 10-game stretch, Booker fell into a bit of a slump by scoring 10.8 per game on 29 percent shooting over his next eight, but he's bounced back with an average of 26.8 in his last four.

Booker was a bright spot Wednesday, pouring in 32 points in a 128-97 home loss to New York. Alex Len overcame a slow start to finish with 14 points and 10 rebounds, giving him 19.3 and 13.7 per game over six consecutive double-doubles.

After losing a franchise record-tying 17 straight road games, Phoenix won two in a row before returning home Wednesday. Now it'll try to take three of four from Denver with its first three-game road win streak since a five-game run Dec. 17-28, 2014.

"We need to come out more aggressive. We need to hit first - that's how we were able to have success on the road," Booker said. "Those first five minutes will be important."

Faried has given the Nuggets a tremendous spark lately. The fifth-year forward was averaging just 12.2 points and 8.7 rebounds on Feb. 23 before putting up 19 and 11 with six double-doubles over his last seven games.

After becoming the fourth player this season to have at least 25 points and 20 rebounds in a game with those exact totals in Sunday's 116-114 overtime win over Dallas, Faried finished with 24 and 10 in a 110-94 win over the Knicks on Tuesday.

"He's probably top-three best energy players in the league," rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay said. "As long as he plays with that energy, it's good for us."

Mudiay also has been good for the Nuggets (26-38), averaging 19.5 points in his last four games. Gary Harris has scored 16.9 per game over his past seven, while Nikola Jokic has averaged 15.5 points and 9.8 boards in his last four.

The Nuggets hope to up their mark to 4-2 on this seven-game homestand by winning three in a row for the first time since Dec. 11-15. However, they've dropped eight of 10 overall and four of the past five home matchups with Phoenix (17-47).

Knight had a career-high 38 points and 11 rebounds in a 114-107 win there Nov. 20 before finishing with 21 points and 10 assists in a 104-96 home loss Dec. 23 when Booker was out for the Suns and Mudiay sat for the Nuggets.

It's uncertain whether Knight will return on this visit after missing 21 games due to a groin injury. He's scoring a team-high 19.7 per game with Bledsoe out for the season and was cleared to play Wednesday but said he didn't feel ready.

Denver's Will Barton has averaged 18 points while hitting 10 of 20 from 3-point range and pulling down 8.3 rebounds in his last four meetings.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.