Preview: Dallas Mavericks (23-17) vs. Phoenix Suns (22-16)

Time: 7 p.m. MST


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The last time the Mavericks visited U.S. Airways Center, the Phoenix Suns’ offense performed perhaps exactly how they envisioned with the speedy and floor-spacing roster. Phoenix won 123-108 by shooting 15-of-30 from three-point range. Eric Bledsoe shot and slashed his way past the slow-footed Dallas defense, Gerald Green added a 22-point punch off the bench and Goran Dragic needed just 13 points.

On the other end, the Suns held the Mavs to 3-of-17 from behind the three-point arc. Dallas would have been doomed had it not been for Brandan Wright using his length advantage to score 19 points to go with four blocks off the bench.

The Mavericks visit Phoenix for the second time this season on Friday, and once against they’re nipping at the Suns’ heels in the Western Conference standings. Rick Carlisle’s squad is clicking offensively and has scored as least 107 points in its last four.

Dallas is coming off a 129-127 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, and Jeff Hornacek’s sleeved and orange-clad gang will be tasked with keeping up offensively and then having the legs to grind one out once again.

Can Phoenix again stop the three-point shot?

Dallas doesn’t take a lot of threes, but it is shooting 38.1 percent on the season. Against the Clippers, the Mavs’ offense was booming thanks to the longball. They hit 12-of-25 from deep, so something must be clicking. Oddly enough, second-leading scorer Monta Ellis only needed 13 points for Dallas to put up those numbers — he was mostly dropping dimes, finishing with 13 assists.

The Suns don’t have Bledsoe to inhibit Ellis from doing what he wants, but it’s a good bet they’d rather have him score 20 or 25 than allow, say, Samuel Dalembert from scoring 20 easy points like he did Wednesday in Los Angeles.

And in general, the concerns about Phoenix’s defense are warranted. The pace was fast on Wednesday, but the Suns came out of a a game where they allowed a banged-up Los Angeles Lakers team to shoot 47 percent from the field. That’s not going to fly against a team that needs this win thinking playoff positioning.

Will the Suns bench stand up to Brandan Wright and Vince Carter?

Losing Bledsoe compounds the bench production by moving Gerald Green into the starting lineup. It’s become clear that Green and forward Channing Frye have to produce, at bare minimum, double-figures for this team to cling to its playoff hopes as Bledsoe recovers. So that means more of the onus is on the Morris twins to play productively. It’s not that they need to outright dominate a guy like Wright, who has the obvious physical advantage — it’s just that they need to attack him on the other end of the court and at least keep the focus in keeping him off the offensive glass.

Will they twins play as Markieff did in the Suns’ win over the Lakers, where an inside-out attack helped them open it up? Or will they revert back to their old ways?

How does the guard rotation look?

Leandro Barbosa is still questionable with his shoulder injury, but his presence obviously changes things a bit. The Blur proved he’s still got it against the New York Knicks at the end of Phoenix’s five-game road trip.

How will Barbosa play against a team that’s likely plugged in a strategy to stop him — or at least discussed it? And how does his return or lack of return impact backup point guard Ish Smith, who has been sometimes the last resort for Hornacek? Smith is obviously a defensive liability — maybe not against the small Dallas backup points — but he’s certainly able to help relieve Goran Dragic all while pushing the pace, something that could be invaluable against a Dallas team that didn’t seem keen on running with Phoenix in the teams’ first meeting.

  • CART jeff

    Plumlee has missed 4 baby hooks in a row. TV announcer has finally commented, that shot isn’t working for him. Somebody from the suns coach him up. He has great potential but he needs help, square up and shoot is the advice he needs. Look at Dirk, he squares up and does a fade away to create space to get off his shot. Much better than the baby hook.

  • sunsn7

    Im sorry but I gotta say it..Suns are in the COMFORT ZONE. Now that they are experiencing expectations, collectively they are failing…Morris Bros are in their 3rd year.

    Somebody needs to challenge them ala BILL PARCELLS. Different sport, same concept..Hornacek is from the Old School too. Instill it and require it from our Suns. SUNS NATION HAS YOUR BACK JEFF

  • sunsn7

    Good look PJ, just didnt fall.

    Pssst..I was calling for #17 on that play ;)

    SUNS NATION is alive and well!

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  • EBJM

    A hook shot and fade-away jumpers are two completely different shots. I had mastered the hook shot first and then the fade-away as I got older.

    If Miles hasn’t mastered either after four years at Duke and now in his 2nd year in the NBA, well…….

    Personally I think the hook is an easier shot, you only use one hand.

    Abdul-Jabbar has scored more points in the NBA than any other player using the hook shot.

    Magic Johnson beat the 76ers while filling in for Abdul-Jabbar using the hook.

    If Miles hasn’t mastered a hook shot by now I seriously doubt you are going to see him replicate a Nowitzki turn-around fade-away jumper any time soon.

    There is a reason Miles ranks #10 in the league in dunks made.

    Here are the top five:
    1) DeAndre Jordan
    2) Drummond
    3) Howard
    5)Anthony Davis

    Do you see the similarities? All big, athletic players who don’t have much of a post game.


    Davis surprising has an array of shots but he is only 20 so he had already developed them, but nobody saw them before.

    Howard took years to develop any moves and he still looks awkward when using them.

    Drummond is also 20 but he has always been bigger than opposing players, it will be interesting to see if he develops moves.

    On draft night for Roy Hibbert, many thought he was too slow and mechanical for the NBA but he is fundamentally sound and can shoot hooks with either hand.

    Unfortunately Miles might have reached his peak already, he is already 25. You don’t master a post game at age 26 or 27.

    Look at Amare, all he could do was dunk and when he learned how to shoot a jumper he started shooting at the elbow and wanted to move back towards the three-point line.

    The biggest disadvantage in having your center shoot a fall-away jumper is his momentum is taking him away from the basket, reducing his chances for rebounding his own miss.

    Former Sun center James Edwards was 7′-1″ and came into the league with a fall-away jumper that he was able to get off against Abdul-Jabbar in Laker practices his rookie season.

    Edwards played 19 years in the league and has a career rebounding average of 5. He only averaged more than 7 one season.

    You don’t want to turn your best rebounder into Channing Frye.

  • Dave:f32

    Good ole Blue Edwards! Old school

  • BCrayZ

    EBJM & Dave have a dislike for Frye.

    What the heck do they know? Not that much.

    Jeff Hornacek knows best. He knows how to use Chinga (Frye) for wins. When was the last time someone other than Gogi (Dragic) scored 30 with 3 blocks in a game? Took only 16 shots (5 of 7 from deep & 7 out of 9 closer to the hoop including a tip in & a drive & dunk). This win moves the Suns back past the Mavs for the 7th seed in the highly competitive West (with the tie breaker in hand.) Frye & Gogi play even better with our Brazilian Blur. Were Barbosa have been able to come back a game sooner, we would have beaten those Mavs & be riding a 3-game winning streak heading into the Pacers game. They (Gogi, LB, & Frye) should play at the same time. Each of them will play even better off of one another, as they have in the past. Mike Prada knows the game very well. He says that Gogi & Frye are among the best & most valuable guys in the game. Here is that link:

    MUST start & ALSO finish with LB. Let’s go SUNS!!!!