Dallas Mavericks 93, Phoenix Suns 87 — Marion unloads

The Matrix turned back the clock in exploding for 29 points. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

The Matrix turned back the clock in exploding for 29 points. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

The Phoenix Suns can pick their poison all they want. Until they stop mixing two or more, they’re going to meet their end.

In a 93-87 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Monday, they avoided Dirk Nowitzki, who was sitting out to rest a knee. The Suns then quieted his replacement, Lamar Odom.

But in allowing 29 points to former Sun Shawn Marion and ushering centers Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi to 27 combined points, the Suns failed to turn the five-game road trip that started so terribly into a dazzling success.

There were signs the Suns (6-10) were finding themselves in two wins against New York and Boston, and against the Mavs in Dallas, more good signs arose. Yet wins become more precious by the day, and Phoenix just couldn’t put together a complete game.

Right up front, here’s the good.

Looking like his legs were finally in basketball shape, the 39-year-old Grant Hill got stronger as the road trip wore on. The veteran forward was aggressive early on Monday, though his six second-half turnovers showed that perhaps he began to break down as the game grew old.

He scored 12 first-quarter points on seven shot attempts against the Mavs, and though Phoenix shot only 41.7 percent in the first, it scored 27 points to keep pace with Dallas’ 32. Hill was also in charge of holding Odom to 11 points on the night while totaling 19 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals himself.

Another positive sign was center Marcin Gortat, who had a monster night of 19 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks. And of course, Steve Nash was Steve Nash, compiling 12 assists and eight points.

In the end, none of that was enough.

As a team, the Suns shot a dismal 37.3 percent from the floor and hit on just 6-of-20 shots from three-point range. Dallas didn’t do much better, shooting 40.7 percent as the Mavs continued their own rough season on the offensive end.

And that’s why Phoenix turnovers hurt even more on Monday night.

The Suns gave it up 19 times to the Mavericks’ 12, and it offset a rebounding night where Phoenix impressively grabbed 17 offensive boards. Four of rookie Markieff Morris’ 11 boards were offensive, and Gortat and Jared Dudley also grabbed four offensive rebounds apiece.

Poor shooting didn’t help Phoenix’s cause, either.

After scoring 27 points in the first 9:24 of the game, the Suns’ offense became weak to nonexistent.

The Mavs went on a 13-3 run from the 2:36 mark of the first quarter until 8:03 remained in the half, and during that time they built a 39-30 lead. Phoenix responded with a 12-2 run of its own, including eight points from guard Shannon Brown, but in the end could only muster 19 points in the second quarter.

Holding Dallas to only 17 points on 30.4 percent shooting in the second, the Suns’ 49-46 halftime deficit didn’t look so bad.

But the third quarter did.

Again, the Suns scored 19 points, but this time their shooting slumped below 30 percent. The defense wasn’t there either. Marion alone went for 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting to give the Mavs a nine-point advantage at the end of the third.

The 6-foot-7, 228-pound forward appeared as if he’d slipped on his old Phoenix Suns jersey, hitting 4-of-6 three-pointers and aggressively attacking his old team on 21 shot attempts for the game — most them in the paint. Meanwhile, Phoenix put Mahinmi at the foul line 12 times and Haywood scored all 10 of his points in or near the paint, making the Mavericks’ low shooting totals look harsher than reality.

The Dallas lead reached its high point of 15 with less than five minutes left in the third, but the Suns would never get it under seven until a meaningless 3-pointer by Markieff Morris with five seconds left in the game cut it to the final 93-87 score.

And so the final result can be taken two ways.

The Suns, with promising statistical performances from Gortat and Hill, couldn’t defeat a Mavericks team that mightily struggled to hit their shots. That, or Phoenix simply can’t afford to turn the ball over 19 times and couple those errors with atrocious shooting percentages if they want to get back on the winning track.

  • Mel.

    … and again, the Suns allow another player to notch up season-bests at their expense. I can’t even factor what the problem was tonight, aside from the fact that the guys on the floor bore little to no resemblance to the PHX squad I was watching over the course of the last two games.

    Just a whole hell of a lotta “blah.”

  • Tony

    Well, once again not a surprising loss when you consider the level of talent on the Suns. The old adage that you get what you pay for is proven once again as the Suns, a team full of role players is just incapable of sustaining a high level of play consistently.

    In the past, the Suns always had enough talent to make a trade to improve or attempt to improve some facet of the team’s weakenesses. Unfortunately, the team just doesn’t have the assets to trade to make this team any better. The team still has some of the Amare trade exception left and is under the salary cap, but I just don’t see Sarver willing to take on anymore contracts to improve this team.

    Ugh! Just so frustrating!!!

  • Scott

    Frye was -22 in the +/- for that game. Ouch.

    Morris led with +10.

    Interestingly, for the Mavs, Marion was -3.

  • Kenton

    Weird calls. The whole game through (flagrants aside).

  • steve

    I only watched the first half (because I knew how the second half was going to play out and I didn’t want to waste my time), and I’m just fed up with how this team simply doesn’t show up on some nights. It was obvious from the first few minutes of the game that they weren’t going to be playing any interior defense whatsoever. When I said yesterday that the Suns needed to FORCE them to score at the rim, I didn’t mean they should LET them score at the rim. I just wish I was in on the team meetings when the players decide in which games they want to try and in which games they want to roll over.

  • Scott

    FWIW, the Suns were a lot closer on FTs in that game. They had as many makes as Dallas did.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/True_Rys Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    Yes, it is frustrating. But seriously people what did you expect?

    As much as we all love the SNOWman –

    You know, I don’t know if I’ve explained this SNOW thing on VOTS yet.
    Steve. Nash. Over. Winning. _ SNOW in honor of the front office and owner holding onto Nash as he wastes good years on a terrible team as a cash cow over dealing him to help jump-start the rebuilding process so the franchise is able to win again sooner rather than a decade later. See: Los Angeles Clippers pre-Griffin.

    If you frequent Daily Dime Live, these are the chants to post if you want them broadcast.

    Steve Nash FG: SNOWflake
    Steve Nash 3: SNOW flurries!
    Nash Assist: SNOWball
    Nash Rebound: SNOWboard!

    It is all the rage and gathering steam. Please support the S.N.O.W. movement. Thank you.

    Anyway, as I said above, we all love Nash, (SNOW!), but as lethal as he is on the offensive end, if he is not paired with a monster of a defensive 2-guard, there are going to be defensive problems all day. That is just the way it is with Steve Nash. You’re going to have giant cracks in your defense as you adjust to help him.

    Gortat can’t do it alone, but THORTAT!?!?! is a beast anyway so whatever.
    Morris is still young and has to grow into being able to read, adjust, and defend the rim. Can’t fault him for being young.

    The result is a lot of helping, guys coming over late down low and guys leaving people open outside as they try to protect whoever is driving by Nash.

    On the other hand, the Mavs only scored 93 points. That’s not a bad defensive effort because, if we shoot 47-50% from the field, we bury them by 15.

    So, to the real ugly monster in the room. The shooting. It’s awful.
    Channing Frye must not have worked on his game at all during the lockout. We already know Shannon Brown is bad. We already know Sebastian Telfair is bad. We already know RoLo is bad outside of 3 feet. We already know all of this.

    JMZ plays hard every night but he’s a jump shooter. Some nights he’s going to have it some nights he’s not going to have it but he contributes in other areas, (rebounding; some defense), so we let it slide. The others? So much blood…

    On the bright side, the writing is on the wall. You can expect mass ejections after this season is done. I’d be shocked if more than Gortat, Rolo, Morris, and JMZ remained after this season.

  • Tony


    what are you talking about? Nash’s defense is not what killed the Suns against the Mavs, did you even watch the game? Kidd, the guy Nash was guarding made one shot. What killed the Suns was the lack of offense.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/True_Rys Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    @ Tony – was talking about the root of the defensive problems as a whole, which is Steve Nash no matter how you slice it. And, taken from my post above:

    “So, to the real ugly monster in the room. The shooting. It’s awful.”

    So, .. what?