Phoenix Suns 102, Dallas Mavericks 91 — Leave the beards, take the win


Goran Dragic penetrates and dishes over the Mavericks' Brandan Wright (34) while Dirk Nowitzki (41) looks on. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Goran Dragic penetrates and dishes over the Mavericks’ Brandan Wright (34) while Dirk Nowitzki (41) looks on. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

What a difference a day makes. The Phoenix Suns reminded us all how good a well-earned victory feels as they defeated the Dallas Mavericks 102-91 at the American Airlines Arena.

Last night, the Suns lost in gut-wrenching fashion to the Houston Rockets on a last-second goaltend. Had that defeat, their tenth in a row, caused a hangover today, no one would have been at all surprised given the way the team has played for the last month. But Phoenix showed no ill effects from the Houston loss whatsoever. They jumped on the Mavericks from the start, opening up a 28-14 lead in the first quarter. Despite a plethora of big runs by both teams, the Suns weathered the storm and got a much-needed victory.

Phoenix had lost 10 straight games in Dallas. Their last win there came on March 14th, 2007. For the Mavericks, this loss put the penultimate nail in the coffin for their playoff hopes. Another loss by the Mavs or win by the Jazz will seal Dallas’ fate.

The engine that drove the Suns to victory was undoubtedly Goran Dragic. The Dragon posted his second straight double-double with 21 points (7-14 FG) and 13 assists. He was absolutely unstoppable in transition and got to the rim at will against Darren Collison and Mike James. The only answer Rick Carlisle had for Goran was to send multiple defenders at him. The Mavs didn’t really fare better forcing the ball out of Dragic’s hands though as the recipients of Goran’s passes knocked down shots all night long.

Jared Dudley (18 points, 5-9 FG), P.J. Tucker (17 points, 6-9 FG), and Wesley Johnson (17 points, 7-13 FG) collectively as a wing unit had one of the most productive nights of the season. From beyond the arc, they were a combined 8-of-15. They each contributed in different stretches of the game. Johnson scored 15 of his points in the second quarter. There were a few minutes where he and Dragic were trading baskets back and forth and the Suns’ looked like they had one of the top backcourts in the NBA. Dudley made several clutch shots that helped put a stop to Dallas runs. And Tucker helped secure the win with back-to-back jumpers with less than two minutes left to play and Dallas within four points.

The Suns must acquire more talent at the wings this offseason, either through free agency or the draft. But nevertheless, it’s good to see Dudley, Tucker, and Johnson be this productive, especially on the road against a Dallas team with something to play for.

As I mentioned earlier, the Mavs are not yet eliminated from the playoffs, though their chances now are incredibly slim. But aside from the eighth seed, the Mavs were playing for the right to shave the unruly beards they’ve been growing for the last few months. Dallas’ players made a pact not to shave until the team reached .500. They have been within one game twice, but have failed to capitalize both times. For the sake of those who watch these games on TV, I hope the Mavs get there in their final four games. Chris Kaman looks more and more like a Squatch everyday.

The Mavs’ best performance came from unbearded, former Sun, Shawn Marion. Marion put up 22 points and nine rebounds as the Suns had no rim protection when Jermaine O’Neal wasn’t in the game. This allowed Shawn to score in the paint with relative ease. I continue to be impressed by how much leaping ability and quickness Marion still has despite his age.

The Suns actually did a solid job defending O.J. Mayo. P.J. Tucker held the Mavs’ guard to six points on 2-of-10 shooting. Tucker’s length and energy seemed to bother Mayo throughout the game.

The most impressive thing about this win for the Suns was the way the refused to fold each time the Mavs reeled off a big run. Dallas spanned the end of the first and beginning of the second quarter with a 12-0 run. In the third, they opened with a 12-2 run. Their third quarter scoring flurry was especially worrisome given the Suns recent struggles coming out of halftime. But the Suns outscored Dallas 13-1 for a stretch later in the second quarter and reeled off a 12-0 run midway through the third. During those stretches, the Suns were efficient on offense and tough on defense. For the entirety of this season, Phoenix has had either offensive efficiency or defensive toughness. Never both and sometimes neither. It was refreshing to see the Suns, with almost nothing to play for this late in the year, working so hard on both ends and rejoicing so splendidly after a win. This team may be headed for Top 5 pick, but on occasions like tonight, they show they still have pride and can still play with heart.

And 1

  1. The Suns actually shot better from downtown (12-27, 44%) than they did from the field (42%) thanks to Jermaine O’Neal and Luis Scola combining to go 6-of-25 from the field. Both guys made up for their poor shooting performances however. Scola grabbed a season-high 15 rebounds one night after dropping 28 points on his old team. Jermaine O’Neal redeemed himself from last night’s gaffe by blocking a season-high seven shots and anchoring the Suns interior defense.
  2. Wes Johnson played well in front of family and friends who made the short trip from his hometown of Corsicana, TX to Dallas.
  3. Michael Beasley missed the game due to the birth of his child.

Tags: Dallas Mavericks Phoenix Suns Phoenix Suns Recap

  • foreveris2long

    The Suns played tough tonight on the road as they did last night. They can be proud of their effort both nights. The win tonight was the payday for a good days work.

    If I am part of the coaching staff, Wes Johnson is going to spend half of the summer working on a low post game for instances when his defender is giving away 3 or 4 inches. He has to diversify his game by getting more shots in the paint. He should also spend considerable time improving his ball handling. I think he can be a special player if he also gets mentally tougher.

  • foreveris2long

    Blanks, Did you know that John Henson, the guy you passed over to get to Marshall, had I believe 17 points and 25 rebounds for the Bucks tonight? I am just saying.

  • Scott

    @forever -

    And Nik Vucevic, who was taken after Markieff Morris, scored 30 points and had 20 rebounds in that same game (and his Magic beat the Bucks).

    Furthermore, Mo Harkless had 14 pts on 7-13 shooting and a +/- of +18. Not bad for a rookie. Beno Udrih, who I had wanted the Suns to trade for a couple years back when he was unused by the Bucks, had a +/- of +21 for the Magic, and scored 13 pts with 11 assists.

  • Scott

    As for Wes Johnson, I had to wonder if his first half performance was to show off to Cuban. You know Cuban is going to go shopping for free agents next year, and WJ is probably going to be taking offers.

    As for Johnson’s poor handle, keep in mind this was how he was scouted for the draft: poor handle, likely to turn it over if he has to dribble drive toward the basket. And that’s why he doesn’t do that, and that’s why he’s better off at SF, where he can either shoot 3s, do pull-up 2s, or catch lobs on cuts to the basket.

    I’m not saying he can’t improve, but he’s been in the league 3 years now, playing SG, and he still can’t drive.

  • foreveris2long

    I suspect Scott as long as he is a wingman for the Suns next season they will be happy if he is tougher mentally whether he is a 2 or a 3. I think whether he plays the 2 or 3 he needs to improve his strength and ball handling but most importantly he needs to set up his outside game by getting a few buckets in the lane. He can get that as you know off the dribble or on post up moves.

    Since this is clearly his best stretch of basketball and he did it playing the 2 guard, the Suns will probably try to continue this experiment. However if it fails they won’t have a problem moving him to the 3 spot. Either way he is an asset that has a great frame upon which to build.

  • foreveris2long

    Nice call on Vucevic from USC Scott. I forgot where he was drafted.

  • Nobutsmeow

    American Airlines CENTER you moron!

  • http://ValleyoftheSuns Ryan Weisert

    You’re right my bad. I always confuse the different Airline Arenas. AA Arena, US Airways Center, Fronteir Airlines Quidditch Bowl and of course the Southwest Airlines Thunderdome.

  • john

    @Nobutsmeow

    For real? Someone is a moron because they don’t remember which of the 15 different names for sports arenas one of the 200 major sporting facilities in the US decided to slap on after their advertiser?

    I think you need to chill a little bit.

  • john

    Speaking of chilling out when pointing out errors:

    “The Mavs didn’t really fair better forcing the ball out of Dragic’s hands…”

    It should be *fair*, MORON!!!!!!1!!!11!one!!1!1!! ;)

  • john

    haha, I messed up my own correction, fantastic. Now I’M the moron.

    *fare*

    Sigh, it’s early.

  • Voqar

    I don’t see any reason for the Suns to win right now. This tied them with Cleveland for losses and could jeopardize lotto positioning. This draft may end up being weak but it’s still better to pick high than to not.

    They should be tanking. Our team and FO are so bad right now they can’t even get losing right.

    Just “rest” Dragic for the rest of the season and mission accomplished. Suns won’t beat anyone if he sits.

    Surely we have some players at the end of the bench who need “evaluated” over the next few games to help push the L’s.

    I guess it doesn’t matter, does it? As long as Sarver is around Suns fans are doomed.

  • Forever is2long

    John, that is pretty funny. It is good when we can laugh at ourselves. I have had plenty of practice.

  • bill.thomas

    @Voqar: Maybe we could play Blanks in lieu of Dragic.

    After all, that skilled talent evaluator is a former pro.

  • opppermann

    Suns / Cavs

    what about the tiebraker ?

  • john

    There is no tie-breaker for the lottery. Final record is all that counts. In the event of identical final records, the odds are split between the spots those teams occupy (so if the Suns and Cavs tie for the third-worst record in the NBA, they each get the AVERAGE odds of the third and fourth positions).

    For instance, if they tied with the Cavs for third worst (this is just going off the top of my head, so the numbers aren’t exact), the Suns would have about a 14% chance at number 1, 15% at number 2, 16% at number 3, 11% at number 4, 30% at number 5, 10% at number 6, and 1% at 7.

    Yes, I know that only adds up to 97. I’m just trying to be helpful and I don’t want to bust out a calculator right now.

  • Scott

    Conceptually, is Trey Burke really a top pick type? (I didn’t see him play.)

    He’s a 6′ jump shooter with long arms.. He’s fast, but he’s not known for his defense. In the NBA I’d assume his play making skill would be emphasized more than it was in college. His forte is the pick and roll, which would be a strength in the NBA.

    So breaking it down, he’s smallish but he’s got length. He has a motor on offense, but lacks one on defense. He’s quick more than athletic. He’s ball-dominant, and not much of a play maker (.73 pure point rating), which may point to him having an average bball IQ.

    For comparison, Dudley has a PPR of 1.28. Nash, Paul, and Calderon are all around 10-11.

    Now you can be successful with a low PPR. Westbrook has a PPR of -.62. Kyrie Irving has a PPR of .81.

    Kendall Marshall had a PPR of 11 in college.

  • Azbballfan

    The Suns had a great game!

    bask in the glory of beating Dallas right now, cause the Suns should lose the rest of the season

    even in a draft that is easily the worst since the 2000 draft we have to do everything we can to make sure we get get a good pick and draft the right guy

    If it turns out that a team ahead of us picks players we want i.e. Mclmore, Olidaipo, Noel because the Suns won a meaningless road game with less than a week to go everyone on this team including the coaching staff and front office should be fired

    Hey Remember Tobias Harris who the Suns also passed on?

    He has been putting up great numbers since his trade to the magic and he had 30 points 19 boards and 5 assists in a win over another guy you passed on

    Henson had 17 points 25 boards and 7 blocks OFF THE BENCH

    i know that ever year team kick themselves for making these kinds of mistakes but this is twice in a row we have passed on players that guess what destroy any game that the morris twins or marshall has had

    whats the odds that even with a top 4 pick the Suns screw it up and, like last year, end up with the least productive lottery pick?

    Heres a question, would Kendall Marshall and the Morris twins start for any other team in the NBA?

    even Kemba Walker is giving you 17 points 7 assists and 2 steals a game and hes on a terrible team with basically no front court offense

    terrible drafting by the Suns

  • Scott

    How does Trey Burke compare to CJ McCollum?

    CJ is 6′ 3″ with a wingspan of 6′ 6″. So he’s slightly taller and longer. He’s 21, while Burke is 20.

    CJ scored 5 pts more per game, in slightly less minutes, than Burke.

    Due to his so-so athleticism, CJ has difficulty getting to the hoop, pretty much like Burke.

    Burke had twice the number of assists, but CJ is big enough, and enough of a scorer, to where he could play minutes at SG.

    CJ gets to the FT more than Burke, and when he gets there he shoots a slightly higher percentage.

    While not a great defender, CJ does play defense adequately.

    Burke is #7 on the draft board, yet CJ is #16.

  • DBreezy

    The Suns really have to start hitting better on their drafts. Someone will eventually come along and give the justification for why the Suns took who they took at the time, but the bottom line is they’ve had a ton of misses and it has to change for them to get out of the dumps. Especially as rock bottom as they’ve gotten in terms of trade assets.

    At this point, what do you do with Blanks and Treloar if your’re Babby? Change is certainly warranted, but we are deep into the scouting and review process ahead of the draft. Additionally this time of year isn’t exactly the best in terms of adding new front office types. Many candidates are likely still working for other employers and most also like to see what other opportunities are out there before deciding to take a job. So that means you’re probably looking at somewhere between the end of the season and the end of the playoffs depending on the candidate. Not a lot of time to get a staff together and evaluate. In all likelihood a new guy would basically be the decision maker using info gathered largely by the current regime.

  • Ty-Sun

    The Suns are going to have at least one top 6 draft pick this year. If they get lucky in the lottery, maybe a top 3 pick. There isn’t anyone in this year’s draft worth tanking every last game of the season to get one spot higher in the draft. That’s why I’m happy with this win.

    What is more important to me is that the Lakers miss the playoffs and the Suns get a second lottery pick this year.

    There are quite a few solid prospects in this year’s draft even though there are no sure-fire superstars. This year it may be better to get the 6th and 14th picks in the 1st round than getting the 1st pick.

  • Oppermann

    John, thanks for the explanation

  • foreveris2long

    Scott I have to say Burke has no problem getting to the basket. I suspect he sometimes pulls up for a jumper instead of going to the hole but I haven’t seen anyone keep him out of the lane when he wants to get there. I have not seen CJ so I cannot comment.

  • bill.thomas

    @foreveris: We all know Blanks passed over Henson, Vucevic, Faried and Tobias Harris; this guy is a living, walking breathing GENIUS !!!!!!!!!!

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    @ Oppermann & John regarding tiebreakers.

    Nice explanation John, but it doesn’t quite answer the question.
    Let’s say Charlotte wins the Lottery, that means Cavs & Suns would still be tied for 3rd….so who picks 3rd & who picks 4th ?
    It appears that is settled by a coin toss.

    “…the result of the coin flip is also used to determine who receives the earlier pick in the event that neither of the tied teams wins one of the 1st three picks via the Lottery.”

  • foreveris2long

    Bill, Does that mean we can place Blanks in the Genius Hall of Fame? I think O’Neal was probably telling Blanks he was nominated for the award when they engaged in a heated verbal confrontation.

  • john

    @hawki

    Well, it did answer the question in part, but perhaps not everyone is on the same page as far as the process goes.

    I neglected to answer the question assuming that NEITHER team made the lottery (for those not up-to-date on what the term “lottery” actually refers to, it means the top 3 picks) because there isn’t a whole lot of chance that will happen.

    If the Suns or Cavs get the third pick, in your above scenario, the coin flip is irrelevant. Only in the even that two tied teams are out of the lottery (picking 4-14) does a coin flip come into play. So, for instance, let’s say the top three is Orlando, Charlotte, Detroit. In that instance, picks 4-14 would be settled by final record, with ties being broken by a coin toss.

    This is another reason why I hate the NBA lottery so much. The NFL has it right.

  • Forever is2long

    I noticed that another Suns article this morning indicates the Suns have 3 1st round picks. In addition to the Lakers pick, we have Minnesota’s draft pick via Memphis (probably # 24 or 25). Since Minnesota’s pick is lottery protected.

    No matter what, some way some how we need post players Noel/Dieng. From the wing category I think we need one of the following, McLemore, Oladipo, J. Franklin or G. Robinson. Since we are guaranteed 3 1st round picks I suspect there will not be much effort to trade down unless it is to get an additional pick (18-23)to move near the back of the lottery (10-14).

    Anyway this should be fun hearing everyone’s thoughts.

  • john

    @Forever is2long

    I’m pretty sure that article was misinformed. The way I understand things, the Suns have their own first round pick and one conditional first round pick. The only way they would get that Minny/Memphis pick is if BOTH of the picks conveyed. Since the Minny pick is top-13 protected and Minny will be picking in the top-13, the pick will get deferred to 2014.

    I don’t know why there has to be a laundry list of conditions on picks. I don’t even know if Lance Blanks knows which picks the Suns will be getting this year.

    Btw, the Suns won’t pick again until the end of the 2nd round. We have Aaron Brooks to thank for that.

  • john

    Oh, and as a source for all that sort of stuff, prosportstransactions dot com is a great resource. They spell things out in just about as plain of English as you could hope for with all that conditional mumbo jumbo. I just googled “2013 nba draft order” and it was the second result.

  • Scott

    I don’t think the Suns get a pick from Minnesota this year.

    If the Wolves were to somehow get the #14 pick this year, it would fall out of protection, and then yes, the Suns would get the lesser of the 2 picks the Wolves have rights to, meaning the Suns would get the Memphis pick.

    However, so long as the Wolves get a higher, protected pick – and they are expected to take #10 – the pick they owe to the Suns will roll over to next year, which is more favorable.

    See the **highlighted** condition below.

    2013 first round draft pick from Minnesota
    Minnesota’s own 2013 1st round pick to Phoenix (Top-13 Protected in the 2013 NBA Draft, top-13 protected in 2014, top-12 protected in 2015 and top-12 protected in the 2016 NBA Draft). **If Minnesota’s own first round pick falls out of it’s protection in 2013** then Minnesota shall convey the less favorable of their own pick and Memphis’ own first round pick via Houston to Phoenix. If Minnesota does not convey to Phoenix a first round pick by 2016, then Minnesota shall convey to Phoenix, Minnesota’s own 2016 and 2017 second round picks. [Minnesota-New Orleans-Phoenix, 7/27/2012]

  • Scott

    Just to clarify … the Suns should get 2 first rounders in the 2013 draft, plus one late 2nd round pick. One first rounder is the Suns’ own high pick, and the other first rounder comes from the Lakers, and is either their lottery pick or the Heat’s pick.

    Next year, in the 2014 draft, if the Wolves finally make the playoffs (or narrowly miss, losing their lottery protection) the Suns might get their pick in addition to their own. So the Suns will have their own pick, and possibly a late lottery / mid first rounder from Minnesota. (If the Wolves somehow fumble it AGAIN and wind up in the high lottery, the pick rolls over to 2015, and 2016 if necessary.)

    At present, the Suns also stand to have 2 picks in the 2nd round in 2014, courtesy of the Telfair trade. (If Hadaddi could play better next year, and if the Suns pick well with that 2014 2nd round pick, the Telfair trade could turn out to be unexpectedly nice.)

    Of course, trades can change all this, adding or subtracting picks.

    @John -

    The Suns lose their own 2nd round pick in 2013, which would have been a nice high pick (Adreian Payne?), due to the recent trade for Marcus Morris, not Aaron Brooks.

  • Scott

    BTW, the 2nd first rounder that the Suns get from the Lakers is due to arrive in 2015. It is top-5 protected in 2015, but who knows what sort of condition the Lakers will be in two years from now?

    There’s no way of knowing now where that pick will fall, but at least the protection is minimal.

  • john

    Ah, indeed. I was thinking the Morris trade was for a 2014 second rounder. So much to remember!

  • Scott

    It would be nice if the Suns could pick up and/or stash an international player with their late draft pick, as Orlando did years ago with Marcin Gortat. I don’t want to see that pick wasted.

    BTW, DX just uploaded updated scouting, plus a Schmitz video, on Trey Burke. It looks like his game improved considerably since his last scouting report (2012).

    http://www.draftexpress.com/article/NBA-Draft-Prospect-of-the-Week-Trey-Burke-4137/

  • Forever is2long

    John and Scott, Thanks for the insight of the Suns draft picks. It is too bad when I cannot rely on the articles being accurate.

  • Forever is2long

    Scott, If the Suns do not draft a big with a lottery pick, I suspect or at least hope they use the latter 1st round pick to take Payne.

  • Scott

    @forever -

    There’s more than one way to get a quality big man. I still think there is an option to be explored with the Celtics since they did not trade away Garnett and Pierce. I could see a trade from the Suns of Gortat, Scola, Dudley, and Hadaddi in exchange for Green, Sullinger, Melo, and their 2013 first rounder (hopefully Dieng). I know the usual response to this is along the lines of “But the Celtics love Sullinger!” However, if the Celtics want to win a championship in the next two years, they could definitely stand to beef up their veteran lineup at SF, PF, and C, and this would do it.

    And specific to Sullinger, it’s unlikely he’d be playing at 100% for a year after his back surgery. RoLo didn’t, and neither did Dwight Howard.

    So … maybe that specific trade wouldn’t happen, but doesn’t it seem like something of that order should? I mean, we all expect Gortat, Scola, and possibly Dudley to be gone this summer, as they’re valuable trading assets and the Suns are rebuilding.

    IMO, the trade assets the Suns should be looking for would be young players in the PF/C category. That’s where the Suns are weakest right now, with Gortat potentially going, Scola obviously not part of a rebuild due to age, and Markieff not playing well.

    BTW, we’re coming down to the wire on whether or not the Suns get a lottery pick from the Lakers.

    The Lakers are ahead by a game and play Golden State, San Antonio, and Houston. I assume the Spurs won’t sit players for a game against the Lakers, but we won’t know till it happens.

    Utah has 2 games against the Wolves and then their final game is against Memphis. The Jazz have lost 2 and won 1 against the Grizz, but they have won both their prior games against the Wolves.

    Hopefully with the playoffs on the line, the Jazz will bear down and maul the Grizzlies and Wolves.

    A Golden State win tonight over the Lakers and a Minnesota loss to the Jazz would be a great way to set up the pick for the Suns.

  • foreveris2long

    I agree Scott a Gortat type trade could net the Suns a young big or a draft choice and I am all for it.