PHOENIX — Three Dallas players roasted the Phoenix Suns for 20 or more points, and the the Mavericks used the three-pointer to open up a lead that ended in a 122-99 blowout on Monday night.
Led by Delonte West’s 25, Vince Carter’s 21 and Shawn Marion’s 20 — all scored in 28 minutes or less — Marcin Gortat’s 17 points, 10 boards and four blocks weren’t nearly enough for the Suns.
Of late the Suns have struggled to defend the paint, and despite looking rather efficient on offense with Steve Nash sitting out with a left knee contusion, deepening those struggles at US Airways Center was the Suns’ failure to run the Mavs off the three-point line.
“They have a great offense, they have different counters, they have people who can score in different ways,” said Jared Dudley, who scored 15 points. “It’s just a tough team to guard, and once they start hitting shots the floodgates really opened.
“It was really tough for us, even when we had our hand up on good defense they were hitting it,” he added. “(With) bad defense, they made us pay every time. This is becoming a common theme around here.”
If you’ve ever seen a Clive Owen movie in which he totes a firearm, you’d seen this game before. Against Phoenix, Dallas built an 18-point halftime lead by shooting the Suns up for 10-of-16 three-pointers. The Mavs also controlled the interior with 15 second-chance points in the first half while outrebounding the Suns 23-13.
The Suns were trailing 40-37 with 7:38 left in the half, but by the time a 26-11 Dallas onslaught was over, the Mavericks just had to play keepaway in the second half.
“Tough loss,” Gortat said. “They were shooting the ball very well today, but you know what? End of the day, we let them do that.”
Somehow, the product on the court didn’t look so bad, and that was likely due to the Suns being relatively safe with the ball — five turnovers at halftime — and shooting a solid 48.6 percent. But next to the Mavs’ 57.4 percent shooting at halftime, that meant little.
All of Phoenix’s woes continued in the second half, and Dallas finished the game shooting 55.2 percent to Phoenix’s 43.8 percent accuracy.
The Mavs didn’t show signs of tired legs coming off a hard-fought, overtime win against San Antonio the night prior. Carter himself scored 21 mostly off catch-and-shoots to follow up a 21-point performance last night.
Phoenix found itself down 31-24 after the first quarter as both teams shot above 51 percent from the field, and Dallas didn’t turn the ball over once in the period.
Josh Childress provided a spark off the bench, scoring nine first-half points while guarding Dirk Nowitzki when Grant Hill sat. J-Chill ended the night with nine points, four rebounds and two steals in his third game back in head coach Alvin Gentry’s rotation, and his play received the only positive comments of the night.
“The guy is a true professional,” Gentry said. “We gave him an opportunity, and I think he responded and did a great job.”
In the second quarter, the Suns got their hands in the passing lanes and created some turnovers, but their own defense became the victim of Dallas’ ball movement. Even when Phoenix made a good play, the Mavs were always at the right place at the right time.
A Channing Frye block of a Marion shot went straight into the hands of Carter for a wide open three-pointer, and VC drilled another on the next possession to take a 49-43 Dallas lead to 12 points with 4:11 left in the half.
West hit two three-bombs in a row less than two minutes before halftime and Jason Terry added another as the Mavs built a 66-48 lead going into the break.
“You’ve got to stay positive,” Dudley said. “I mean, you should be frustrated. You’re losing, the way we’re losing at times is frustrating. The only thing you can do is come in, look at film, look yourself in the mirror and work harder.
“Defensively, we played really bad tonight.”
The Suns’ often-benched small forward provided a spark for Phoenix, combining with Hill to hold Nowitzki to 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting. No, it wasn’t enough, but perhaps the Suns could use more players who are willing to put in that kind of effort. Marcin Gortat thinks so.
“If we’re going to have 12 Josh Childress’ (on the roster), we’re going to win the game,” Gortat said, unprompted. “The way … the guy came into the game after sitting for 15, 16, 17 games, he came in fully professional, he was prepared and ready, he hustled, he ran and he gave 120 percent. It was incredible what he did.”
As frustrated as they might be in the locker room afterward, it was rare to see frustration on the players’ faces during the game outside Childress (he slammed the ball hard on the floor after losing a dribble out of bounds early), Dudley (the forward looked more aggressive as the game got more embarrassing) and backup point guard Sebastian Telfair (he dove on the floor for a loose ball and was in a controlled attack mode throughout).
Change of point
Replacing Nash goes beyond the numbers, but the Suns should be encouraged that starting lineup replacement Ronnie Price and his backup Telfair combined for 11 assists and only four turnovers on the night. That means it’s probably safe to say the margin of defeat wasn’t completely due to Phoenix missing its star player.
Editor’s note: The score was originally counted as a 124-99 win for Dallas but was changed to 122-99 after the final buzzer, apparently due to two free throws being counted as field goals.