DENVER — In foul trouble early, Gerald Green spent much of the first half stewing on the bench. He spent the rest of the game making up for lost playing time.
Green scored a career-high 36 points, including eight in overtime, and the Phoenix Suns beat Denver 112-107 on Tuesday night to hand the Nuggets their fifth consecutive loss.
"I just got into foul trouble kind of early," said Green, held to nine first-half points in 8:41 after picking up three fouls. "When I was on the bench, I was getting mad, but my teammates were telling me I had the whole second half to play. I just tried to stay in it and help my team win. Guys were setting screens for me and Goran (Dragic) was finding me."
Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said Green’s early foul trouble prevented him from having an even bigger night.
"We told Gerald if he wasn’t fouling so much, he might have had 50," Hornacek said. "When Gerald gets on those rolls, he’s big for us because he can make those shots. He’s not afraid to take shots when the game was on the line. He made a couple of big ones for us."
So did Dragic. He added 21 points and 14 assists for the Suns, who completed a four-game season sweep of the Nuggets, their first in nine years.
Evan Fournier scored 25 to lead the Nuggets, who lost a tough, close game after being blown out in their previous four defeats.
"We really wanted to win this one for the fans because we haven’t been playing very well," Fournier said. "Yeah, it’s tough, especially because we had it. We had the game with 35 seconds (left in regulation) and gave up two offensive rebounds."
Kenneth Faried added 21 points and 10 rebounds for Denver, which was without leading scorer Ty Lawson (broken left rib) for a third consecutive game.
Green opened the Suns’ scoring in the extra period with a driving dunk and hit an 18-foot jumper to tie the score at 103. After a jump ball, Dragic got loose for a breakaway dunk that put Phoenix back on top with 56.2 seconds left in overtime.
Wilson Chandler missed a long jumper, the Suns rebounded and Green was fouled, making both free throws to boost their lead to four with 15.5 seconds left.
Fournier, though, converted a three-point play with 8.7 seconds to go. The Nuggets quickly fouled Green, who made both free throws, and the Suns responded by fouling Faried, who made one of two. After Marcus Morris hit one of two foul shots, J.J. Hickson missed a potential tying 3-pointer and the Suns hung on.
After Phoenix took a 90-87 lead on a layup by Morris with 5:44 remaining in regulation, the Nuggets scored the next seven points, moving in front by four on a putback by Faried.
A pair of free throws by P.J. Tucker pulled Phoenix to 96-94, but Randy Foye answered on the other end with a driving layup.
Channing Frye drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key that pulled the Suns to 99-97 with 35.8 seconds left. Fournier then missed a contested running jumper in the lane, and Phoenix got the rebound with 17.8 seconds remaining.
Markieff Morris put back an offensive rebound to tie it at 99 with 5.7 seconds left and, after Chandler missed a baseline jumper at the buzzer, the game went to overtime.
The Suns went in front 76-75 with 3:30 remaining in the third, helped by Frye’s 3-pointer and a jumper by Markieff Morris. But the Nuggets closed with a 12-0 run in the last 2:23 of the period, erasing an 11-point deficit to take a 77-76 lead into the fourth quarter.
Phoenix led by as many as 14 points early but settled for a 52-51 advantage at halftime.
Green has scored 20 or more in 15 games this season. His previous career high was 34 points against Philadelphia.