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Lawson helps Denver lock down playoff spot

Ty Lawson put on a show at US Airways Center and helped the Nuggets clinch a postseason berth in the process, as Denver took down the playoff-hopeful Phoenix Suns, 118-107.

Lawson poured in a season-high 29 points on 10-of-16 shooting, including a 5- of-5 effort from three-point range, and doled out 10 assists while committing just one turnover.

His effort, along with Kenneth Faried's 18 points and 14 rebounds, assured the Nuggets a ninth straight playoff appearance, as they currently hold the No. 7 position in the Western Conference standings with three games to play.

The loss hurt the Suns' postseason chances, but they still control their fate with two games remaining. They are a half-game behind the Jazz for the eighth and final spot in the West, with Utah scheduled the play the Magic later Saturday. Phoenix, though, holds the tiebreaker and visits the Jazz on Tuesday before finishing up their regular season slate at home against the Spurs on Wednesday.

The Suns may be without Channing Frye going forward after the three-point specialist injured his shoulder in the second quarter Saturday and did not return. Shannon Brown made six three-pointers in his absence and finished with a team-high 28 points in defeat.

Phoenix's Steve Nash recorded nine of his 13 assists in the first quarter, his fourth helper moving him past Oscar Robertson for fifth place on the all-time NBA list.

Nash's playmaking ability helped the Suns take a 34-30 lead into the second quarter, but the Nuggets turned it on from there, shooting 13-of-20 (65 percent) in the second en route to a 60-58 halftime advantage.

The third quarter started much the same way, with Denver opening the frame on a 9-2 run, then pouring in 12 consecutive points in just a 1:41 span a little later.

Lawson made two three-pointers during the quick flurry, which ended with Danilo Gallinari laying one in for an 83-64 cushion with seven minutes still to play.

Denver owned a 93-80 cushion heading to the fourth, and led by double digits the rest of the way.

Game Notes

Denver begins its final three-game stretch at home against the Magic on Sunday, then visits the Thunder and Timberwolves...The Suns at one point missed 11 straight three-pointers...The road team had won just two games in this series since the end of the 2006-07 season...Denver swept the season series for the first time since the 2002-03 campaign...The Nuggets are 13-0 when scoring 60 or more points in the first half...The Suns are trying to avoid missing the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since a three-year span from 1986-88.