Koufos-led Nuggets beat Suns for 9th straight win
PHOENIX (AP) — The longest active NBA winning streak by a team not from Miami reached nine games when the Denver Nuggets beat the Phoenix Suns on Monday night.
Kosta Koufos scored a career high 22 points on 10-of-11 shooting, mostly from point-blank range, Corey Brewer added 20 and Ty Lawson 19 in the Nuggets' 108-93 victory.
Denver's nine in a row is just half of Miami's 18 straight, but it's good enough to have the Nuggets putting pressure on the top teams in the Western Conference. The Nuggets trail the Los Angeles Clippers by just two games for the third-best record in the West.
As usual, the Nuggets did it with an array of layups and soaring dunks.
"Once we get running and getting into our groove, we're tough to beat," Brewer said. "It's all about playing defense. Once we get stops and make them miss, we can run."
Denver had 74 points in the paint to Phoenix's 32. The Nuggets, who lead the NBA with 57 points in the paint per game, topped 70 for the eighth time this season.
"Seventy-four points in the paint. That sums up the entire game," Suns interim coach Lindsey Hunter said. "They dominated us driving the ball. They are a good team and we did a good job of staying close but they just tightened the screws and pulled away from us."
Wesley Johnson scored 18 and Marcus Morris had 16 for the Suns. Hamed Haddadi scored a career-high 13 for Phoenix.
The Nuggets return home to face the Knicks on Wednesday night in Carmelo Anthony's first game in Denver since leaving for New York.
Denver led throughout the second half, but the Suns stayed within striking distance until the Nuggets finished the game with a 16-8 run over the final 4½ minutes.
"I think we ran more in the second half," Koufos said. "Our guards did a great job of penetrating the lane and dishing off and we give them credit for that and that's why we're so good this year, because our guards are so fast and they can penetrate."
Denver overcame an off shooting night for Danilo Gallinari, who was 1 for 8 from the field for five points. Koufos also had 10 rebounds.
Coach George Karl said Koufos "has a great understanding of how to get underneath a defense when the defense makes mistakes."
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