Nuggets clinch playoff berth with win over Suns
Ty Lawson piled up 29 points and 10 assists to lead six players in double figures as visiting Denver clinched a playoff berth Saturday with a 118-107 victory over Phoenix, which dropped out of the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference.Kenneth Faried collected 18 points and 13 rebounds and Arron Afflalo scored 19 for the Nuggets, who still have a shot at the No. 6 seed in the West.The Suns (33-31) dropped one-half game behind the Utah Jazz (33-30), who play later Saturday. Phoenix, which visits Utah on Tuesday, owns the tiebreaker over the Jazz.Denver made its move in the third quarter on Saturday, opening the frame with a 23-6 burst to jump on top, 83-64. Lawson hit three 3-pointers during the burst and Danilo Gallinari added five points and a pair of assists.After shooting 54 percent in the first half, the Suns slumped to 37.5 percent (9 for 24) in the third quarter.Phoenix cut it to a 10-point deficit with 4:41 left in the fourth but Lawson responded with a driving layup and assisted on Andre Miller’s layup to help the Nuggets pull away again.Shannon Brown scored 28 points and Marcin Gortat recorded 18 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Suns.