Dallas Mavericks 109, Phoenix Suns 99 — Going for throats

PHOENIX – The Phoenix Suns are learning how to go for their opponents’ throats. Call it one of many lessons to learn as Lindsey Hunter attempts to teach a team without much room for error, even when it’s playing well.

“That’s a learned process,” the interim head coach said. “That’s a learned behavior. Creating habits … when you get a team down, instinctively you try to put them away.”

A fast-paced, sometimes sloppy affair against a Dallas Mavericks squad gave the Suns an opportunity to chop down a team coming off a tough back-to-back. Instead, it was Phoenix that left US Airways Center with a 109-99 loss on Friday night after once holding a 10-point lead with less than five minutes to play in the third quarter.

By the end of the third, the Suns had let the Mavs back into it.

Halfway through the fourth, they had let Dallas run away with it.

The Mavs sliced and diced the Suns defense in the fourth quarter as Phoenix entered with a 75-74 lead. Aside from a final turnover with 12 seconds left and a cushy lead, the Mavericks scored on their final six possessions, and former Suns forward Shawn Marion scored eight of the Mavericks’ 11 points in the final three minutes, most of which came in typical Matrix fashion – offensive rebounds and tips.

“We just couldn’t get stops,” Michael Beasley said. “The whole game. We kind of held them off, as bad as we were playing tonight, we held them off. You leave them in a game with a shooter like O.J. Mayo, especially Jae Crowder hitting shots, they’re going to run away with it.”

Mayo led the Mavericks with 20 points and Darren Collison had 19, but it was the Dallas bench that made a difference. Vince Carter scored 17, Jae Crowder’s jump shot haunted Phoenix as he scored 13 points and Brandan Wright’s length helped him shoot 5-of-7 from the floor for 11 points.

Shannon Brown was about the only positive on the Phoenix bench, scoring 20. Michael Beasley struggled mightily with his shot, going 2-for-13 for just four points and leading the team with three turnovers.

“We need everybody,” said point guard Goran Dragic, who flirted with a triple-double in scoring 19 points along with nine assists and eight rebounds. “It’s not only the starting five. Shannon was the only guy from the bench who played really well.”

An aggressive Brown entered the game in the second quarter with Kendall Marshall, who played backup point guard instead of Sebastian Telfair for the second time this year.

Marshall showed what could be expected. He had two assists and two turnovers in 10 minutes. Though his offensive deficiencies showed in one play – a drive with the shot-clock winding down that was blocked by fellow former Tar Heel Wright – Marshall also displayed his adept creativity that sometimes leads to trouble.

Brown, streaky as usual, was hot and Marshall’s role in that was especially impressive. The rookie made it a point to find Brown, tossing a risky but accurate crosscourt pass to Brown for an in-rhythm jumper.

The shot gave Phoenix a 40-33 lead nine minutes before the half, but Dallas had tied the game at 54 by halftime.

Phoenix held the Mavs scoreless for more than four minutes in the heart of the third quarter and capitalized with an 11-0 run for a 10-point lead. But Dallas fought back with a 13-2 run to regain the lead and trailed just 75-74 heading to the fourth quarter.

That’s when the Mavericks, who had been fumbling and bumbling at times during the game, finally had had enough.

The Suns looked poised to make a run a couple of times to avoid losing after a blown double-digit lead. But in the end, a troubling sequence – one of those stamps that bad teams keep in their pockets – put the Suns away for good. Dudley got an offensive foul called for a leg-kickout on a three-point attempt, then Dragic received a kick ball penalty and slammed the ball on the floor in frustration, drawing a technical.

So much for the Suns going at a team when it’s most vulnerable. And in the end, it were those same Suns who had been broken.

“We can’t play like that, especially against a team that’s coming off a back-to-back,” Beasley said. “You have to jump on them. That’s how you win.”

Michael Beasley goes cold

Michael Beasley fell back to Earth in a hard way on Friday. Hunter said he wasn’t worried, saying that Beasley was just “a step off.” The looks were good, Hunter said, and the shots didn’t fall.

It’s clear the Suns have pounded into Beasley’s head that shot selection is more important than shot making as far as the forward’s mindset should be concerned.

“I shot the ball great,” Beasley said, quite seriously. “Got shots I wanted, the ball just didn’t fall. That’s it.

“I was still aggressive, still doing what I had to do on the rebounding side, defensive side.”

And in Beasley’s defense, the majority of his jumpers weren’t too out of rhythm, and they mostly missed in the same fashion. They were consistently off, spinning out of the cup with the same touch each time.

Beasley lost the plus-minus game with a minus-16 on the night. Brown, who went 7-of-11 from the floor, had a minus-13 in much time spent on the court with Beasley. Take those statistics for what they’re worth.

And 1

Dragic on his late technical foul following a kicked ball call on the point guard after an attempted steal: “We were close, we just couldn’t execute our offense. I would like to apologize to my teammates. I shouldn’t do that. When you try to win games and it’s not going well, then the bad side … is coming out.”


    im starting to think the suns might not make it to the finals this year

  • Cody

    @Shazam, this team is poised for a title run, gonna play it like they do in football, just turn it on at the right moment then, BAM! Banner number one with Zeller finals mvp, in all seriousness though, I thought we played a good game, gotta learn to execute, and I do like that Goran hates losing, want our young guys too develop that type of intensity for the future, except our young guys aren’t that good but oh well, I’m liking the intensity

  • Russell Suns fan

    “What’s that? Ah — Finals? Don’t talk about — Finals? You kidding me? Finals? I just hope we can win a game! Another game.”

    Or something like that.

  • Russell Suns fan

    Just to add for the above.

  • Russell Suns fan

    This is the 2013 Suns.

  • Michael Beasley

    Dawg, I seriously thought those shots went in! Didn’t know I missed shit till my high wore off… I was faded the whole night… Dammmmn that was good kush!

  • DBreezy

    I’m still curious as to how Hunter will handle his rotations with the younger guys going forward. From a locker room standpoint, I don’t think he can keep doing the Kendall/Bassy switch thing. It seems pretty clear that he only played Bassy the other night because it was a big game that they really wanted to win. No need to embarrass anyone so if they want to play Marshall, Johnson, etc just play them and deal with the good and the bad. There’s no need for Goran to be playing 38 minutes a night for a deep lottery squad 47 games into the season.

  • Azbballfan

    I agree Dbreezy

    Hunters reign began with the team 15 games under 500 and 6 games later we are still 15 games under

    They have played better

    they are still inconsistent though

    just stick to the play the young guys plan

    You never know who is gonna call and ask for one of your guys if you give them playing time

    Things should go smoother once the deadline passes and people know who will be here

    atleast for this season.

    so Golden State a road win or loss?

  • Domm Cobb

    A single thought can dictate the future.We’re going to use inception on Robert Sarver… Convince him to sell his shares of the team. We’ll set-up a “business transaction” in which we’ll negotiate a fair price on season tickets and use that moment to utilize inception.

  • Domm Cobb

    I will use something inconspicuous as a totem. A device which let’s me know when the dream is happening. This foam finger will have to do.

  • Azbballfan

    HAHAAHA that is too funny

  • IowaPhXfan

    I think the lakers game was our last game of the year we wanted to win at all costs… we should see more and more young guys gettin time moving forward…

    Trade idea: Dudley & Gortat to Memphis
    Z-Bo and Ed Davis to Phx

    Mem wants to cut salary even more… and Dudley seems to fit perfectly for their team and what they need.

    Phx gets an all star big guy to build around w draft picks. plus Frye would go perfect w Randolph.


  • Azbballfan

    Z-Bo would be great

    But Frye career could possibly be over

    I dont think Z-Bo and Frye are gonna magically make this team from 15 games under 500 to a good playoff team by themselves

    Now, if the Suns and Grizzlies make a trade like that on draft day and we get Ben Mclemore and Alex Len (or whoever)

    then we might have something with a lineup of Dragic, Mclomore, Davis, Randolph and Len

    But its tricky

    The Suns plan of building a team around 2 max players is not a good idea unless 1 of the 2 is Lebron

    2 max guys flanked by role players and minimum vets probably isnt gonna get it done in the west.

    You might get to the 2nd round of the playoffs with that, and that doesnt equal a title

  • DBreezy

    Did you guys see Marc Stein’s Weekend Dime on ESPN? He’s got a quality story about Beasley and other unnamed Suns eating off the sports writers buffet during warmups and also a little 5 question interview with Gortat. Marcin mentioned that he thinks if he gets traded that he’ll go to a contending team and not a bad team. I’m sure that’s what any player would say, but with Gortat’s penchant for brutal honesty I wonder if he and his agent have made it clear to the front office that he is going to tell potential trade partners that he intends not to sign an extension? If so, I’d guess the odds go up that he’s moved around draft time vs the trade deadline. Hopefully he’s not here next season as the Suns still have zero intention of paying him what he wants.

  • IowaPhXfan


    Yea I wasn’t saying Z-Bo and Frye make this team a title contender… just a good big man combo I thought with Z-Bo’s rebounding and toughness and Frye’s 3 pt shooting would create great spacing… Obviously we need to hit on some top draft picks… Mclemore/Shabaz seems like a must this year… I say we end up with a pick between 2-4 this year. Get Mclemore/Shabaz with that pick. Lakers pick will be between 12-14. Take Trey Burke/Jeff Withey/Isaih Austin with that pick. Then hopefully one of our two 2nd rd picks turns into a decent bench guy.
    Lineup could be Dragic/Burke, Mclemore/Shabaz, Free Agent (Mayo, Josh Smith), Frye, Withey/Austin
    Not sure how good that could be… can’t just hope there’s another Lebron or Durant that’s going to fall into our laps… find 2 all-stars and put great pieces around them and you have something….
    2014 draft is the one Phx should really want to aim for and try to get top 3 pick…. Wiggins, Parker, and Randle would all be clear #1 picks if they could get drafted this year. It’ll be the best talent in top 5 picks since 2003 (Lebron, Carmelo, Bosh, Wade).
    Sooooo give every young player some time next year! It’s not ‘tanking’….it’s ‘building for the future’… go suns :)

  • Azbballfan

    Yeah i see where your coming from

    The Suns have nothing to lose by going young, stockpiling picks, and cap space

    If the Suns do get Josh Smith in a trade for Gortat, i like it because its win win

    either he proves he is worth the money or he doesnt and the suns get cap space

    I think the Suns data on teams taking 10 years to reach the conference finals has a big hole in it

    For one thing, the Conference Finals is not the goal, a title is and the suns have only been to the finals twice

    using that logic the suns could argue that you never want to rebuild, at all, cause their “research” would show that doenst lead to a title

    I dont know any team outside the Mavs and Heat that won a title without going through the draft

    Even Nowitzki was a draft day trade with the bucks for robert traylor

    Not rebuilding prolongs the losing

    its very hard to go from mediocre to probably title contender

    your usually much better off going from bad to mediocre to title contender.

    The Suns will never win a title if all they do every year is try and get the 8th seed and ignore the draft and pray that some mega star abandons their team to save them

    That really cant be the front office plan, right?

  • Scott

    As I’ve said before, I suspect Hunter will play the regular starters right up till the trade deadline, and after that he’ll start slipping in the junior players.

    I don’t know if the Suns are really going to trade anyone by the trade deadline, but it makes sense to show off the veterans just in case a good trade can be made.

    After (or on) the deadline, assuming they haven’t traded him, the Suns can cut Telfair. Telfair will still get paid the full amount, but he’ll be free to join another team. This will force Hunter to play Marshall for regular minutes, and it will provide cover for tanking.

    The Suns can do the same with O’Neal.

    Till then, Hunter whenever Hunter plays Marshall it is to show people he really can handle the position (though not well), so waiving Telfair looks justified.

    Telfair and O’Neal would be waived to “give them the opportunity to join a contender, or to try to impress a team and win a contract for next season.”

  • Forever is2long

    Iowa, While I like Z-Bo, 2 reasons I would not want him in Phoenix, one Z-Bo and Frye would be as unathletic a front line as you could have. If we had an athletic center and small forward, I could see it. I could even see it if we still had Lopez. I sure hope New Orleans does not exercise their option on him this summer but I suspect they will as he has played pretty good for them. The other reason I would not do it is I would rather we rebuild with guys 26 and younger so they can grow together. Just my silly prejudices but they do not mean it would not work.

    DBreeze, You know I have been trying to trade Gorat for 2 years so whenever he goes will be fine with me. I just think we could have gotten more for him when Nash made him look better than he is. However same old Suns, let’s keep Gortat in the fold until his value diminishes then we will think about letting him go. In the meanwhile we will let our 25 year old center go elsewhere for three one year option contracts for less than Gortat earns. so now when we lose Gortat we won’t have a center. I do not know why I could not think of that.

    This front office is brilliant beyond description. All three of the musketeers should be the centerfold (fully clothed) for the next Smart Guys Magazine.

  • Scott

    The Suns would be doing better this year if games were only 2 quarters long.

  • DBreezy

  • foreveris2long

    This roster is an indictment of the front office. Yikes! Gortat has no low post game. It is either pick and roll or fall away jump shot. If he goes to a team with scorers, he will look better.

  • foreveris2long

    Yeah DBreezy I second that. Bleacher report said the Suns may have the most depressing roster in the league and I tend to agree. I did not see the game last night and it was painful watching the 2nd half tonight. Very appropriate song.