After achieving two straight wins as an NBA head coach, Lindsey Hunter has now experienced two straight losses as an NBA head coach as his Phoenix Suns(15-30) fell to the Dallas Mavericks(19-25) last night by the final score of 110-95.
The Mavericks were led by their great German seven-footer Dirk Nowitzki who eclipsed Allen Iverson on the all-time scoring list last night while at the same time eclipsing the Suns as Nowitzki recorded 18 points and seven rebounds in the Mavericks win.
“I’m starting to feel better,” said Nowitzki, who missed the first 27 games of the season after undergoing knee surgery. “I have a little more pop on my jump shot. I have a little more lift.”
“Honestly, this was as close to a must win as we have in the regular season,” Nowitzki added. Dirk and his Mavericks currently sit 11th in the western conference. Should Dallas miss the playoffs this season it’ll be the first time since 2001 that they have missed the playoffs, snapping their streak of 12 straight playoff appearances which is the second longest streak of all time behind only the San Antonio Spurs(15 straight).
The Suns were playing their second game of a back-to-back set and their energy level on the court last night reflected that. The Suns trailed the Mavericks by as much as nine points in the first quarter and found themselves trailing by 17 with over nine minutes left in the second quarter.
“We’re pretty tired today,” said Marcin Gortat “Hopefully for the next game, we’ll be more ready to play. It was a terrible first half.”
It was a terrible first half indeed. The Suns trailed Dallas by 16 points heading into intermission. The Suns got relatively great play from Goran Dragic who led the team with 18 points, eight assists, and two blocks(tied with Gortat); Dragic has averaged 15.8 points, 9.3 assists in four games under Lindsey Hunter.
The Suns were once again plagued by turnovers. The Suns turned the ball over 18 times collectively which led to 23 points for Dallas; Dallas had 11 more field goals made as well as 11 more attempts than the Suns.
Former Sun Shawn Marion played a huge role in the Dallas win. Marion recorded 18 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Marion was not the only one who played well against his former team, former Sun Vince Carter poured in 15 points off the bench.
“I pride myself in getting better every year I’ve played in the league and helping my teammates get better as well,” said Marion. “That’s why I’m able to have such a long career.”
The Suns managed to sneak up on the Mavericks as they got within five points with 10:59 to go in the game after a Shannon Brown lay-up but the Mavericks answered with a 10-0 run ignited by a Nowitzki 3-pointer and was capped off by a Dahntay Jones lay-in which gave Dallas a 91-76 lead with 8:41 left in the contest, and from that point on the game was in the freezer; for the Suns anyway.
The Suns drought in Dallas continues. The Suns haven’t won a game in Dallas since that classic double-overtime win on March 14th 2007 back when Marion still wore a Suns uniform.
With this loss to Dallas, the Suns fall to 4-19 on the road which is the worst road record in the west and second worst in the NBA ahead of only the Washington Wizards(or the Washington Generals).
The Suns will now head home to prepare for the homecoming of Steve Nash on Wednesday night as it’ll be the first time since March 13th 2003 that Steve Nash will be wearing an opponent’s jersey on the Suns home floor. Ironically enough, it was Mavericks jersey. Without a doubt it will be an emotional night at the U.S Airways center in downtown Phoenix on Wednesday night.