Image Credit: @Suns Twitter
On Monday, the Dallas Mavericks will finish out their two game series versus the Phoenix Suns as they look to get back on track. The Mavericks finished the month of January with a record of 7-9 and are hoping February will be much better. The Mavericks have lost eight of their last 10 games coming into this one as they hope the return of Maxi Kleber can save them.
On Saturday, the Mavericks played the Phoenix Suns as part of a two game regular season series hoping the struggles will come to an end. The Suns trailed by 5 points heading into the fourth quarter after the Mavericks used a third-quarter run that featured Luka Doncic scoring 18 of his 29 points in the third quarter. The Suns countered the Mavericks third-quarter run by going on a 8-0 run to begin the fourth quarter to take an 85-82 lead. The Suns were tasked with playing without Devin Booker which opened up for Chris Paul to takeover the game and did by scoring 16 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter to help the Suns beat the Mavericks 111-105. The Mavericks dropped their fifth consecutive game which is the longest losing streak since March 2019. They’ve also lost four straight at home as they hoped the home court advantage would help them get back on track. With the loss, the Mavericks fell to 8-12 on the season as they continue to lose ground in the western conference.
The Phoenix Suns are coming into this game by defeating the Dallas Mavericks 111-105 to take game one of this two game series. With the win, they now built a two game winning streak which puts them sixth in the western conference at a record of 10-8 on the season. The Suns hope they can use this momentum to gain some ground in the western conference as they try to get a top-5 seed once the season is over. The Suns are heavily relying on Devin Booker to be healthy for the rest of the season as their playoff hinges on their superstar, followed by Chris Paul and former top-pick Deandre Ayton. The Suns are holding opponents to only 107.5 points per game which is the fourth fewest allowed in the NBA as that has played a key part this season. The Suns rank fifth in the NBA in assist percentage with 64.8% of shots made being assisted.
Entering this game, the Mavericks played the Suns in the season opener which featured in a 106-102 loss. The Mavericks haven’t had good success recently against the Suns as they have now lost five straight and 11 of the last 12 meetings. Overall, the Suns lead the all-time series with a record of 90-74.
The Mavericks started this game with the return of Maxi Kleber as they now officially play in a game which all players are considered healthy and it took 20 games into the season for it to happen. This will provide what the Mavericks will officially look like with a healthy roster. While the Mavericks got some help so did the Suns as they welcomed Devin Booker, who missed last game, onto the court as they try for a series sweep. The first bucket would belong to Josh Richardson for the Mavericks to get this game going. It would only take 1:03 into the game for Maxi Kelber to score his first points as he was able to make a dunk with the Mavericks going on a 6-2 run to begin the first quarter. Devin Book found his way into this game by making an 8-foot shot to tie game at 6-6 with 9:49 left in the quarter. The turnovers were finding the Mavericks as they turned the ball over four times already in the beginning stages of this game, fortunately they wouldn’t result in some Suns points. After a back-and-forth game, the Suns would call a timeout with 7:11 left in the quarter after Josh Richardson made a shot to tie the game at 10-10. The Mavericks looked like a completely different team by attacking the paint while the Suns struggle to find their groove in this game. Coming out of the timeout, the Suns were able to find Deandre Ayton for an easy shot near the rim to regain the lead at 12-10. The game would remain stagnant for quite some time before Langston Galloway and Tim Hardaway Jr hit three pointers for their respective teams. The Mavericks had plenty of opportunities to take the lead and go on a run but the shots were just not falling in the hoop. A scary moment in the game as Tim Hardaway Jr hustled for a loose ball that resulted in him running over the scorers table which caused a broken monitor. Fortunately, he would be okay as he was able to walk back to the Mavericks bench on his own power as Rick Carlisle would call timeout with 2:51 left in the quarter that saw the Mavericks leading 18-15. In the final minutes of the quarter, the Suns were able to come back to go into the second quarter tied at 22-22. Both teams struggled shooting the three ball as there was only three combined three pointers made while the difference came with the Mavericks shooting better from the field as they shot 40.9% on nine of 22 shooting. Tim Hardaway Jr would lead the game in scoring as he scored 8 points for the Mavericks.
The Suns started the second quarter fast as they were able to get quick production from Chris Paul and Frank Kaminsky to take a 25-22 lead in the early stages of the quarter. The Mavericks started this quarter slow as they only were able to make one basket out of five attempts. This game would go on a scoring drought from both teams as neither could afford a bucket for quite some time until Deandre Ayton making a turnaround jump shot to give the Suns an 27-24 lead. The Suns were handing the Mavericks plenty of opportunities to take over this game but the Mavericks couldn’t take advantage of it. Both teams would seesaw their way into the lead with Chris Paul and Josh Richardson exchanging buckets. The last laugh during this seesaw run would belong to the Mavericks as Willie Cauley-Stein would make an alley-oop off of a Luka Doncic pass to give them a 39-37 lead. Rick Carlisle was tired of this back-and-forth and call a timeout 4:50 left in the quarter with the Mavericks holding the lead. Coming out of the timeout, Luka Doncic found Willie Cauley-Stein for an easy slam dunk to extend their lead to 41-37. The Suns came storming back in large part to Chris Paul making a 26-foot three pointer that forced Rick Carlisle to call timeout with 2:43 left in the quarter that saw the Mavericks lead evaporate as the Suns would jump out in front to a 45-43 lead. Coming out of the timeout, the Mavericks went to Luka Doncic as he would make a free-throw line jump shot to tie the game back up at 45-45. The quarter would end with the Mavericks going on a 7-0 run to take a 53-47 lead. This is about a close of a game you could get as both teams couldn’t breakaway from each other. This would be the first time the Mavericks ended a quarter with a lead during this losing streak. Everything remained identical but the biggest difference was points in the paint as the Mavericks out scored the Suns 30-22 in that category. Chris Paul would lead the game in scoring through two quarters as he had 18 points on eight of 10 shooting from the field. The Mavericks leading scorer was Josh Richardson as he scored 14 points on six of 10 shooting from the field. This game featured a lot of defense as both teams were able to play good defense.
Coming out of the half, both teams struggled as neither team could make a single basket until Mikal Bridges made a slam dunk for the Suns as it took 1:00 for someone to score in this third quarter. Devin Booker would hit a 30-foot three pointer to make it a five point game until Luka Doncic decided to answer with a three pointer of his own to take a 60-52 lead for the Mavericks. The three point shooting was staring to heat up for the Suns as they were able to hit two of them to try to comeback in this game. This quarter was starting to crank up as both teams have finally woken from this slow start in the quarter. The Mavericks started to make some threes as Dorian Finney-Smith hit one to take a 67-59 lead. Rick Carlisle would take a timeout after the Suns would foul Josh Richardson to send him to the free-throw line with 6:56 left in the quarter. Coming out of the timeout, Richardson would make both of his free-throws to take a 69-59 lead. The Mavericks couldn’t stop Chris Paul as he would drill a 14-foot shot to give him 24 points with an extra quarter to play but the Mavericks would remain with the 73-66 lead. The Suns were able to cut it to 78-73 following Mikal Bridges free-throws with 3:05 left in the quarter. The Suns found themselves on a 7-0 run as that’s exactly what the doctor ordered for the Suns as they saw an opportunity to make it a game and took it as they now trail 80-77. In the final minutes of the quarter, the Mavericks were able to protect their lead as they remain out in front 82-77. We have seen this one before, as the Mavericks found themselves in exact same position as last game with the only difference was they couldn’t finish. The Mavericks are hoping this time around they can close it out with a victory. The Mavericks were able to rely on Luka Doncic and Josh Richardson in the third quarter as they played a huge part in retaining this lead.
The Mavericks can see this victory at the end of the tunnel and it would fall on them being able to close out and finish games. A crazy Tim Hardaway Jr shot as he tipped-toed his away along the baseline to make a 1-foot shoot to take a 84-79 lead in the early stages of the fourth quarter. A 10-5 run by the Suns would be crucial for them as they were able to comeback and tie this game at 87-87 which Chris Paul made the tying 18-foot pull-up shot with 9:19 left in the game. Rick Carlisle would call a timeout with 8:18 left in the game as the Mavericks once again continue to struggle at closing out games as the Suns were able to take a 89-87 lead. Protecting the lead has been one of the many struggles the Mavericks are facing this season as it costed them many victories this season. Coming out of the timeout, the Mavericks turned to Josh Richardson to tie the game by attempting a 26-foot three but couldn’t convert. A huge possession for the Mavericks as Jalen Brunson was able to complete the three point play by hitting the free-throw as he made the basket while being fouled to make it a two point game. The Mavericks defense collapsed as they allowed Chris Paul to make a wide open three pointer to keep the Suns in front 95-90 with 6:40 left in the game. Kristaps Porzingis would make a huge and much needed three pointer for the Mavericks to tie this game at 97-97 with 5:26 left in the game as the Suns would call timeout. The Mavericks were very fortunate that the Suns allowed the opportunity to tie this game and they took it. Coming out of the timeout, the Suns went to Devin Booker for a free-throw line jump shot but couldn’t covert thus leaving the game tied. The game would remain tied until Josh Richardson made a prayer slam dunk as Luka Doncic was falling out of bounds and threw the ball over the backboard for Richardson to slam it home to take a 99-97 lead. The Suns would tie the game on free-throws but the Mavericks went out in front again thanks to Kristaps Porzingis “banking” the ball off the backboard for two points. With 3:14 left in the game, Rick Carlisle would use his “coaches challenge” by calling a timeout as the Officials ruled the ball went out on the Mavericks thus giving the Suns the ball. After a review, the ruling had been confirmed as the challenge would be unsuccessful by Rick Carlisle. Coming out of the review, the Suns couldn’t tie the game as they couldn’t convert on the possession. A gut-punched three pointer by Devin Booker as he hit a three pointer to take a 102-101 lead as the Mavericks thought the played good defense. However, that wouldn’t be a problem as Tim Hardaway Jr would hit a three pointer to take the lead but Chris Paul said “no so fast” as he tied the game at 104-104 with 1:40 left in the game. Luka Doncic was able to give the Mavericks a 106-104 lead by making both of his free-throws with 1:21 left in the game. A controversial play would happen as Devin Booker made the shot while Deandre Ayton committing a offensive foul on the same possession and the officials were reviewing on when the Ayton foul to place before or after the Booker shot. After the review, the officials deemed that Devin Booker’s shot would count and happened after Deandre Ayton committing a foul which resulted in the Josh Richardson going to the free-throw line. At the free-throw line, Josh Richardson would make both of his free-throws to take a 108-106 lead with 50 seconds left in the game. Chris Paul was able to split the double-team for a wide open layup but blew the shot this resulting in a “jump ball” with 11.9 seconds left in the game. Both teams couldn’t secure the “jump ball” that resulted in the ball going out of bounds off of Maxi Kleber with 10 seconds left in the game for one last chance for the Suns at tying the game. Coming out of the Suns timeout, they went to Devin Booker for a three pointer and was able to drain it thus resulting the Suns having a 109-108 lead with 1.5 seconds left. Coming out of the Mavericks timeout, they went to Luka Doncic for a chance to win the game but couldn’t convert as the ball barely missed going in.
This team looked much better as the Mavericks played tough defense, something we haven’t seen in quite a while during this losing streak. The Mavericks were attacking paint instead of forcing up careless three pointers. The Mavericks had plenty of chances to run away with this game but couldn’t take advantage which resulted in the Suns coming back in this game. The Mavericks were were able to take a 53-47 lead at halftime which the Mavericks would take that during this struggle. The Mavericks once again were leading after the third quarter and again had a chance to snap this losing streak. The Mavericks were so close to coming out of this game until Chris Paul took over the fourth quarter and ultimately having Devin Booker break the Mavericks’ hearts. This was an unbelievable game from the Mavericks but couldn’t close out the game in the final seconds of the game.
In the end, it was the Phoenix Suns defeating the Dallas Mavericks 109-108 with Devin Booker hitting the game winning shot. The Mavericks saw their record drop to 8-13 on the season as they couldn’t snap their losing streak which is now at six games. Luka Doncic provided the Mavericks with 25 points and 8 assists. The Suns were relying on Chris Paul in this game as he posted 34 points and 9 assists but it was Devin Booker nailing the clutch three point shot to give him 24 points in the game as he gave the Suns the win. With the win, the Suns were able to see their record improve to 11-8 on the season while increasing their winning streak to three games.
The Mavericks will now travel to Atlanta to face the Hawks on Wednesday to give us our first matchup between Luka Doncic and Trae Young as they were traded for each other in the 2018 NBA draft.