The Phoenix Suns snapped a 10-game losing streak Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks 102-91 at American Airlines Center.
In a forgettable season for Phoenix, the Suns essentially earned the title of spoiler for a Mavericks team that was on the outside looking in on the Western Conference playoff race. This win also gives Phoenix its first road victory since February 27.
“I thought we moved the ball really well,” Suns coach Lindsey Hunter said. “We shared the ball. We made the right plays … Everybody played well that played.”
The Suns finished shooting 42 percent from the field, 44 percent from 3 and 94 percent from the free-throw line. Phoenix accumulated 25 assists, 11 blocks, 14 fast break points, 32 points in the paint, 48 rebounds, seven steals and 11 turnovers. Three Phoenix players ended the night with double-doubles in the win over Dallas.
Goran Dragic had 21 points and 13 assists. Luis Scola finished with a season-high 15 rebounds along with 11 points. P.J. Tucker closed the game with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Jermaine O’Neal bounced back (pun intended) with a season-high seven blocks vs. Dallas following his embarrassing debacle against the Houston Rockets. Wesley Johnson added 17 points.
In a losing effort, Shawn Marion ended with the team-high 22 points and nine rebounds, while Dirk Nowitzki had 21 points and eight rebounds. Vince Carter added 18 points.
In the first quarter, Phoenix went as far as Dragic could carry them. And carry them he did, scoring 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting. In the blink of an eye, however, the Suns’ lead shrunk to just 28-21 once Dragic occupied a seat on the bench. After a Dallas 20-second timeout, the home team quickly flipped the switch. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle certainly told his team what they needed to hear to cut the Suns’ 14-point lead to seven with a 1:23 remaining in the first.
Phoenix’s bench only accounted for eight points, whereas Dallas’ backups contributed 19 points by halftime. Nevertheless, Johnson uplifted the Suns poor bench play after scoring 15 of his 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting in the second quarter. Dragic continued to thrive in the second as well with 16 points and nine assists. Yet the Mavericks were able to contain the Suns’ 61-51 lead with some streaky shooting of their own. Carter produced 13 points, while Nowitzki and Marion both collected 12 points prior to the second half.
The tone of the game made a swift 180-degree twist. The third period became more of a defensive-minded matchup compared to the second quarter’s high-octane scoring spree. Phoenix held its own entering the fourth, which has undeniably been a rarity for the Suns this season. The highlight of the third was Dragic recording his 17th double-double of the season with 5:07 remaining in the third. Overall, Phoenix maintained a 10-point lead heading into the final 12 minutes of play up 81-71.
The Suns have been known to make fans sweat it out in their victories. Well, in this case, Tucker was able to ease the suspense after a late 3-pointer with less than a minute left in the game. From that point on, the rest of the game became a free-throw shooting contest that Phoenix won.
“It’s disappointing because it was just another opportunity lost to get back to even, as far as our record,” Carlisle explained. “We’re just not good enough from start to finish. … Dragic was the best player on the floor. He shredded us from the start of the game to the end.”
The Mavericks closed the game shooting 40 percent from the field, 35 percent from the 3-point line and 81 percent from the foul line. Dallas totaled 21 assists, seven blocks, 14 fast break points, 40 points in the paint, 49 rebounds, seven steals and 13 turnovers.
Dallas, whose playoff hopes are virtually over, will play at home vs. the Denver Nuggets on April 12. Phoenix will head to its third-straight away game to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on April 13.