Dallas Mavericks 110, Phoenix Suns 107 – A shot short


PHOENIX – Generally, the Suns are just a bad matchup with their athleticism alone.

But against a versatile team in the Dallas Mavericks and with the need to pick at mismatches in an almost forced manner without Eric Bledsoe or Leandro Barbosa, the chess match was set going into Friday’s game.

It’s just halfway through the season, but you could tell the veteran Mavs led by coach Rick Carlisle sensed they needed a win. They got it with a 110-107 Suns loss that became an offensive slugfest at U.S. Airways Center.

“Hornacek’s done a fantastic job,” Carlisle coach said of the Suns before the game. “They’re a hard-nosed, hard playing team. They are one of the more physical teams in the league. People don’t talk much about that. They defend well, they go after rebounds and they have a toughness, and I know Jeff’s had a lot to do with that.”

The compliment didn’t come across as your standard “every team in the NBA can win any night” type of a way. And it showed during the game.

Carlisle acted as if he meant it.

Dallas came into the game less than a percentage point behind Phoenix in the Western Conference standings, and the Mavs coach brought his best stuff.

Just after starting the second half, Carlisle quickly subbed in speedy rookie point guard Shane Larkin, who toasted Dragic, the admittedly poor defender of small points guards, for nine points. Larkin ended the night with 16 points and five assists.

Carlisle went with a small lineup that saw former Suns forward Shawn Marion score 12 points against the less limber Channing Frye in the third quarter. When Hornacek finally subbed out Frye and Miles Plumlee to match up with the small lineup, Carlisle came back with Nowitzki and DeJuan Blair.

It set the Suns off-kilter just enough to strike their rhythm that they had in exploiting their own mismatches, such as Gerald Green in the post and Goran Dragic in the fullcourt.

Phoenix shot a respectable 45 percent and got 29 points from Dragic and 23 points and 10 rebounds off the bench from Markieff Morris. But the Suns couldn’t do enough on the other end — the mismatches seemed to be the difference. Dallas shot 53 percent for the game, and Phoenix didn’t have an answer for Monta Ellis, who shot 10-for-20 from the floor to score 24 points to go with seven assists, two blocks and two steals.

The Suns’ loss was like a playoff game. And the down-to-the-wire affair showed just where they stand. Right now, after P.J. Tucker’s game-tying three-pointer spun out after a little luck went Phoenix’s way, that’s a little short.

Here’s what I wondered heading into the game and how it panned out.

Can Phoenix again stop the three-point shot?

The three-point differential was bound to be a key in the game of one offense that needs it and another that shoots it efficiently on most nights. The Mavs shot it well a game prior in scoring 127 points against the Clippers, and they weren’t too shabby on Friday night, hitting 9-of-24 for 37.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the Suns struggled mightily. So it was good then that one of the key three-point shooters, Gerald Green, looked to score in the post and off drives early on. Green didn’t have another 28-point game, but he did his job just fine.

The bigger issue was the lack of production from Channing Frye, who had the defensive attention from Dirk Nowitzki and was well-covered on pick-and-roll action throughout. Even the play out of the halftime break with Frye setting one of two screens and then popping didn’t confuse the Mavericks as intended.

Frye finished with six points on 2-of-6 shooting.

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

The bench unit didn’t pose the same drop-off as it had in past games. It started with Markieff Morris putting together his second strong outing in a row. As he did Wednesday against the Lakers, Morris started inside-out. Hornacek wasn’t so much worried about Brandan Wright despite the lanky big man putting 18 points on the Suns last time the two teams met. Rather he was worried Wright would score in pick-and-roll action off pocket passes.

Instead of Monta Ellis dishing to his teammates he was hot himself. On the other end, Morris attacked Wright, once having the rare chance of ourmuscling a taller player under the hoop enough to score on an And 1 play. Marcus Morris followed his brother’s lead, and at halftime they combined for 14 points and 10 rebounds.

On top of Markieff Morris’ double-double, Marcus added 13 points and seven rebounds.

How does the guard rotation look?

Goran Dragic sat out the second quarter until three minutes remained and an Ish Smith-led unit actually had brought the 36-30 deficit after the first quarter down to 51-50. Smith earned himself some run alongside Dragic for another minute.

Smith ended up playing 21 minutes, while Archie Goodwin earned eight. Dragic posted a reasonable 38

  • sunsn7

    Yo Suns?

    Get after it. Just get after IT. Dont be average NBA Punks. Be proud of wearing that SUNS uniform.

    Know why you guys had us early on?? It’s the scrappy, NEVER say die effort…Welcome Back Alex Len!

  • sunsn7

    ARCHIE GOODWIN
    2016 NBA ALL STAR

    2030 SUNS RING OF HONOR
    :D

  • sunsn7

    …2016 Cleveland (lebron) Cav DETHRONERS!

  • Luka

    The Suns aren’t playing well defensively right now. The effort from the beginning of the season isn’t there. Dallas just got way too many easy looks.

    Bledsoe not being out there does have something to do with it. The pace isn’t ratcheted up as fast which has led to defensive issues.

    McDonough needs to get a trade accomplished soon. Let’s cash in some chips and keep the postseason hopes alive.

  • VK1

    Markieff…are you listening out there? Please dunk everything when you’re at the rim!!!

  • VK1

    Great job by Ish to give the Suns some energy off the bench, but I have Marshall on my fantasy team :)

  • BCrayZ

    This is another game that was a loss that could have been a win.

    When the Suns have scored 110 or more, they have gone 16-0. Fell just short of that.

    Eric is down. So too is his replacement as the 2nd ball handler to play along side an exhausted Gogi. When K-Mart looked to amputate Barbosa, that cost us the game. Over time would have been ours. Only 2 points short without making a single hoop. With LB hot & getting anything & everything he wanted from the Knicks defense (14 of his 21 coming in Q4), that was another loss that could have been a winning game, if he were able to continue to play. With last night’s loss, we fell back to the 8th seed in the West, a full game behind the Mavs for the 7th seed. Wins last night & in New York, had LB been able to play, would have us not losing 4 of our last 5 but on a 3-game winning streak, ahead of the Dubs, in the 6th seed, only 1 game back of the Rockets for the 5th seed, with the tie breaker going to the Suns. THIS is the day our 10-day contract with LB expires. Have there been any announcements concerning this? Barbosa is very much needed here, even with Eric, but that much more without Eric. Sign him & keep him here. Make it so Ryan. Look for proof on this link:.http://www.brightsideofthesun.com/2014/1/16/5312490/phoenix-suns-guard-leandro-barbosa-lights-up-new-york-knicks-hope

    MUST reunite “that killer bench unit.” Let’s go SUNS!!!!

  • Bandwagon Fan

    @ BCrayZ

    A few days ago, Babby was asked if they planned to sign LB the rest of the year or another 10 day contract and he said the that he didn’t want to jump the gun because of LB’s shoulder but said that he thought that LB would at least get another 10 day contract. He seem to imply that they wanted to sign him the rest of the year but were waiting on the injury.

  • Bandwagon Fan

    This team seems to be middle of the pack, playoff team with Bledsoe. So it seems about right that they are a team just pushing for a playoff spot without him. That’s kind of where they are now. There is a drop off in play since the beginning of there year from the other players. It’s probably because teams prepare for these players more efficiently but it could be because they think they are better than they really are and they themselves are not playing as smart and as hard every game.

    Goran seems to get exhausted at the end of every game. I don’t know if that’s because of his extended play over the summer but he certainly isn’t a person that score effortlessly. His type of scoring require a lot of energy and he really needs help running the offense. I hope LB comes back quickly. I heard he may be back Sunday. I would love to see LB start the game with Goran and see Green come off the bench.

    Regardless, this team is headed in the right direction. Even with the way the season has been a roller coaster, it’s hard not to be excited about the future.

  • EBJM

    It was fun while it lasted. Let Bledsoe heal fully, throw Len and Goodwin out on the floor and graciously allow yourself to slip below the Nuggets, Grizzlies and Wolves and hope for a good ping pong ball.

  • BCrayZ

    @Bandwagon – Babby is a proven liar.

    Thank you anyway very much. Hope that you looked at the link.

    “Blur” is able to penetrate even better than Eric or Gogi. What a relief it would be for Gogi to have a healthy LB back. Just not sure how badly he is hurt. When Eric blew out his knee, we were the last to know. Frye & Gogi & LB should all play together, until Eric is healthy enough to play starter minutes. Sign him up. Make it so Ryan.

    MUST reunite “that killer bench unit.” Let’s go SUNS!!!!

  • foreveris2long

    What has happened to Plumlee? His game seems to be headed in the wrong direction. I think he only played about 21 minutes last night.

  • john

    @bcrayz

    Every human being on this earth is a proven liar.

  • sunsn7

    aint that the truth!

    “Let God be true but every man a liar”

  • BCrayZ

    Have you heard the latest from that sleazy liar?

    Ryan does not get any credit, according to Babby, nor does Jeff.

    Babby babbled on recently about how this was an easy gig for both of them. Babby takes all the credt for setting them up for such an easy stint with the Suns team. What nerve, after doing all he could to sabotage the team to gain negotiating leverage & power over the owner! Then Sarver, like a dummy, falls for his smooth talking game. Babby is a special kind of liar. Like a politician, each & every word coming out of his mouth are nothing but lies.

    G-d sets an example for us to live by, being just, honorable, righteous & true.

  • BCrayZ

    MUST reunite “that killer bench unit.” Let’s go SUNS!!!!