Dallas Mavericks 101, Phoenix Suns 98 – Nothing left to do but hope


It’s the small things that decide games in the NBA. That has never been more true than in the Phoenix Suns’ 101-98 loss to the Dallas Mavericks tonight. Eric Bledsoe misses a free throw with a chance to tie the game at 99. Gerald Green comes up just short on a baseline jumper with a chance to take the lead. Bledsoe’s fingertips are the last to touch the ball as it flies out of bounds with 25 seconds left. Each one of these is just a single play in a single game. Had even one of them gone the Suns’ way, the outcome of this game might have been different. But what’s done is done. The Mavericks are back in the playoffs, and Phoenix longer controls its own destiny.

The Suns have only one path to the playoffs now. They have to finish with more wins than Memphis. While this is a daunting scenario that requires Phoenix to depend on other teams, the playoffs are still a possibility. Kevin Zimmerman breaks down the scenarios here.

The Suns’ road to the postseason looked much smoother at halftime in Dallas. Phoenix held an 11-point lead after two quarters thanks to Channing Frye’s five triples and the team shooting 60% from the floor. Despite the fact that they committed 10 turnovers and gave up seven offensive boards to the Mavs in the first half, the Suns were dominating nearly every phase of the game. Defensively, they held Dirk Nowitzki to just two points and his team to just 42% from the floor. Eric Bledsoe put up 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting, and Phoenix had already rung up 13 fast break points.

But as has happened so many times this year, Phoenix faltered coming out of halftime. For the second night in a row, their 3-point defense completely collapsed. The Mavericks took advantage hitting five triples in the third quarter and whittling the double-digit down to just three points heading into the final frame. At that point, the writing was on the wall. The Mavericks had all the momentum and a raucous crowd on their side. Though the Suns hung tough in the fourth, and had shots to tie and take the lead late, Dallas – carried by Monta Ellis and Dirk – would not be denied. Ellis finished the game with 37 points (15-23 FG, 3-4 3pt) and five assists, while Dirk had 23 points and eight rebounds. In the first half, Monta drove and scored at will because the Suns had gone small and had no rim protection. When the Suns shifted their defense and closed off the paint, Monta got Dirk going from deep. It was the best game I’ve seen Monta Ellis play in seven years. He picked a hell of a time for it.

For the second night in a row, Phoenix raced out to an early lead only to watch it slowly and painfully evaporate. I don’t think any of the Suns will vacation in Texas anytime soon. For more on tonight’s game, let’s answer our three preview questions.

What will Goran Dragic contribute?

There’s no denying the fact that Dragic’s ankle was bothering him in this game. His footwork was off when he drove to the basket which prevented him from finishing at the rim the way he normally does. His jumper seemed to come up shorter and shorter as the game wore on. Though the Dragon played 41 valiant minutes and made plenty of the gutsy plays we are accustomed to seeing from him, he was definitely not at 100% and it cost the Suns. Goran finished the night with just 13 points on 6-of-18 shots to go along with five boards and four assists. Despite being hobbled, Dragic did an excellent job defending Jose Calderon and Devin Harris, holding the pair to just 3 points combined on the night.

The Suns were carried in this game by his Eric Bledsoe. After a near triple-double last night against the Spurs, Bledsoe put up 29 points in Dallas on 11-of-15 shooting. He also grabbed four boards, dished out six assists, and had four steals. The only hole in his line was his seven turnovers, which helped the Mavericks stay in the game when the Suns were shooting the lights out early. The Suns will hope Bledsoe can stay hot and Dragic can get healthy by the time the Grizzlies come to town on Monday.

Can Phoenix avoid a letdown quarter?

The Suns’ defensive rotation and shooting both fell apart in the third quarter. After hitting at a 60% clip early on, Phoenix fell to just 42% coming out of halftime. Their offensive movement stagnated, and they settled for too many bad shots. Defensively, they were so concerned with keeping the Mavericks out of the paint that they left Dallas’ shooters wide open at the three point line. Dallas recorded just two points in the paint, but scored 15 from downtown while shooting 62% from the field and beyond the arc. The Suns poor performance in the third was their downfall in this game.

Who wins the battle beyond the arc?

Channing Frye hit his first five threes of the game, and the Suns looked like they would walk to a win in this battle. But the Mavericks adjusted their game plan in the second half, and began zipping the ball around the perimeter. The Suns got lost on rotations and were soft on their close outs, yielding entirely too many open shots from downtown. In the end, the Mavericks hit 11-of-24 from deep while the Suns managed only 8-of-17. The Suns’ advantage in this game was always going to be their perimeter defense, but it was nowhere to be found after halftime, and Dallas took full advantage.

 

 

Tags: Dallas Mavericks Phoenix Suns Phoenix Suns Recap

  • Al

    Off Season: Tell Bledsoe to recruit Lebron James. (Yes, I am going there.) Trade the Morri’s to Minnesota with Lakers 1st round pick + Sun’s for Kevin Love. Frye can stay, but he CANNOT be a starter any longer. Focus all Summer developing Alex Len. Next year’s starters:

    Bledsoe
    Dragic
    LB James
    Kevin Love
    A.Len

    Reserves:
    Ish, Archie, Green, Frye, Plumlee

    I know am delusional…Don’t take this away from me!…

  • sunsn7

    “It was the best game I’ve seen Monta Ellis play in seven years. He picked a hell of a time for it.”

    He torched the Suns a few times with GSW..yeah, unbelievable how he wasn’t picked up on defensive rotations. Have to give Rick Carlisle credit though, for knowing his opponent.

    That’s no knock on Hornacek either, as he is a young Doc Rivers..next season though, Jeff? Implement more of that Jerry Sloan discipline and persistence.

  • john

    It was still a fun season. Oh well.

  • Ellensburgbballfan

    I agree with you there Al.

    Rebounding and defense has always been a huge Suns weakness, even in the years where we had Nash and Stoudemire

    if Memphis wins tomorrow at the Lakers, they will clinch and the Suns can spend the next 2 games, at home against Memphis and on the road at Sacramento, evaluating their players for next year

    Kevin Love and Lebron are obviously dream scenarios, but why not atleast try?

    the Suns have a team full of trade able players, and the draft picks and cap space to get something done

    I would like to See Goodwin and Len start the last two games and play a ton of minutes if Memphis clinches tomorrow.

    Phoenix needs to get Len some serious playing time and take the training wheels off starting next season

    Miles Plumlee has played well, but he is not the future, long term answer at center

    he is 26 now, and will be 27 before the start of next season, his third in the NBA

    most Suns fans dont realize this, but Plumlee and Lens per 36 minute numbers are virtually identical

    Plumlee is giving you 11.9 points and 11.6 boards a game with 1.6 blocks per 36 minutes

    at age 26

    Len is giving you 9.4 points 9.8 boards and 1.8 blocks a game at per 36 minutes at 20 years old

    Obviously we need to keep both Len and Plumlee. Its never a bad thing to have two young centers that are athletic and protect the rim

    If Fans dont believe me about their numbers just go look it up on basketball reference, we need to play Len, he is the future center of this team, unless something unforeseeable happens.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Monta Ellis season high 37 pts….figures

    If LeBron James comes to visit….make sure Jan Brewer is not at the airport.

  • Dan S

    @AI take what away from you, your plan or the fact that you are delusional? lmao

  • Luka

    Why is everyone giving up? Suns still have a chance. Have faith people.

  • DZ

    Well, the Suns are virtually eliminated from the playoffs there is still a tiny sliver of hope left to hang on to.

    And if they don’t make it, there is another tiny sliver of hope to hang on to in the upcoming draft lottery. Although it’s extremely unlikely that the Suns could get lucky in the lottery and move up from the 14th pick to one of the top 3 picks, that would actually be a double jackpot because that would drop Minnesota to the 14th spot and the Suns would get their pick this year too.

    But this has still been a near miracle season for the Suns and it’s been a great ride that I wouldn’t have missed for anything.

  • johnfromtaiwan

    @DZ

    “this has still been a near miracle season for the Suns and it’s been a great ride that I wouldn’t have missed for anything”, you put it very well, I totally agree with you ….it’s just that, right now, there’s still something stuck in my chest: when I think of that the Suns might not be able to get into the playoff, my heart just feel so painful and so far I have no way to solve that painful feeling in my chest. Just so difficult to “accept” that a wonderful team like the Suns can not be in the playoff!

  • EBJM

    Those losses to the Lakers, Cavaliers, Jazz, & Pistons sure caught up to them.

  • foreveris2long

    I would choke before wearing a Lakers forum gold and purple jersey but I will be a huge Lakers fan tonight at 6:30. I will watch every minute of this one until there is no more doubt. I like the fact Nick Young has recently gone on record as saying there is nothing to be gained from tanking. Since most of these guys are playing for new contracts they will put it all on the line. The problem though is Memphis is battle tested so hope is all we have. That was really the difference between Dallas, Memphis and Suns, the Suns lacked playoff veteran leadership.

    Man if the Suns get the 14th pick, they are going to have plethora of really nice players to choose from. Regarding the Suns trading that pick for a top notch potential free agent like Love, the Lakers supposedly will be offering their top 6 selection for Love or possibly Kyrie Irving. With the draft, free agency and Pro Summer League, it should be a great offseason.

    Great season Suns!!!

  • EBJM

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe the Suns 47 victories thus far and not qualifying for the playoffs is their 3rd most victories and not qualifying.

    ’71-’72 49 victories
    ’70-’71 48 victories.

    In ’08-’09 they missed the playoffs with 46 victories.

    It can only happen to Phoenix.

  • EBJM

    DZ according to the Book of Leviticus year 2014 is the year of the double portions. Suns have never gotten a break in the draft lottery. Is 2014 the year?

  • http://www.phoenixsuns.com Gary Boersma

    Well it is not over until it is over. Regardless the Suns have had a great,great year and their future looks bright in the years to come. I will always be a diehard fan. Originally from Michigan and enjoyed the Lyons in prior years when Sims was there running back but when I arrived in Arizona from retirement from the USAF pretty much have devoted most of my time as a Suns favorite when I am not Walleye fishing back in Michigan. So take care Phoenix you have nothing to feel bad about you have had a great year and the only player I have missed playing of late is Steve Nash he is a great person and player and will always look up to him. All for now hang in there Phoenix better days ahead.

  • DZ

    @johnfromtaiwan – Yeah, I have a kind of empty feeling inside because I know that, even if the Suns win their last two games against Memphis and Sac, they will need some help from Dallas and/or the Lakers to make the playoffs. And if the Suns beat Memphis then Dallas actually has LESS motivation to play for a win in their last game with Memphis because they will have a lock on the 7th seed.

    But there is still hope. At least Memphis has to play LAL and phoenix on the road instead of at home. I was reading earlier that some of the Laker players have said that the last few games really DO matter to them because a lot of them will be playing for their next contracts so at least they don’t sound like they are willing to lay down and die just yet.

    Keep the faith and GO SUNS!

  • CarlyJoni

    Lakers will play hard for 3 quarters and then let up, just enough to show the front office their potential for next year. They have no interest in playing spoiler, been there, done that when they crushed the Suns last week. If anything, losing to put a nail in the coffin of Suns playoff hopes is something they would cherish. And Dallas will coast in their final away game with the Grizz. That said, it’s been a fun season, and thanks to McD, Horny and the team for bringing hope back to the Valley.

  • CarlyJoni

    One wrinkle in these final games, is GS vs. Portland. If GS loses, Dallas would have a chance to move up the ladder, so their final against Grizz might matter. On the other hand, resting Dirk’s ankle is also a factor. In any case, hope Suns give the home crowd one more win at home. Go Suns, don’t let Gasol/Randolph sweep the series!

  • EBJM

    The Grizzlies have taken two of three games this season from the Lakers. The one loss to the Lakers, Kobe and Pau Gasol were playing but Mark Gasol and Mike Conley did not and even then the Lakers only pulled out a four point victory.

  • Andrew

    @EBJM add the 2 kings losses to those ugly losses you mentioned

  • DZ

    “… losing to put a nail in the coffin of Suns playoff hopes is something they would cherish.”

    That might be something in the back of the minds of those in the LAL FO/ownership but few of the Laker players probably care beyond their next contracts. The bitter Phoenix/Lakers rivalry really exists only in the minds of fans these days, not the players.

  • sunsn7

    Great season and I commend the Suns but in all honesty, this team doesn’t “deserve” to be in the playoffs. If they did, they would’ve found a way to win at least one of the games on the Texas two day.

    As it is, in a 1st round matchup, Thunder and Spurs would both dispose of the Suns inside of 5 games. It’s just the truth. We saw how these Suns didn’t respond well to 4th quarter playoff ball so the Suns aren’t ready for the bright lights…yet.

    On to the lottery! :D

  • EBJM

    Suns would have upset the Thunder 4-2 in the 1st rd.

  • Andrew

    LAL up by 6 in the 1st! Go LA lol

  • johnfromtaiwan

    @ DZ –

    I appreciate that you are willing to share with me your feeling of emptiness…..that’s really touching.

    Well, I do my best not to hold the expectation that Memphis will lose both of their games to the Lakers and Dallas, becasue, you know, I’m so afraid that the more I expect, the more I will get disappointed, then I might feel more painful than now….

    But it’s good that you want to “keep the faith”….I really wish you good luck!!!

  • foreveris2long

    Well it is a 1 point game at half time. However Antoni is playing that 1 center and 4 small guys. Oh boy!!! Regarding free agency, the more I see of Ed Davis the more i think he is a decent power forward option in free agency. Certainly he will be cheaper than Monroe, Gasol, etc.

  • foreveris2long

    Well the good news is the Lakers started the 2nd half playing two bigs. The bad news is the Lakers are down by 7 with K. Marshall shooting brick after brick. Even the Lakers announcer are saying he needs to spend all summer shooting jumpers instead of that ugly set shot.

  • EBJM

    Grizzlies thought enough of Davis to acquire him to replace Z-Bo if necessary. The man plays tough inside.

    Lakers Jordan Hill looks like he is playing for a contract tonight. Playing center against Mark Gasol he already has 10 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blks and 3 dimes.

  • David

    Man this lakers team is pathetic, can’t help but think that that game did us in based on how terrible they have looked against Memphis.

  • sunsn7

    Lakers giving the Suns the finger.

    Ok NOW the offseason talk can begin.

  • EBJM

    It took awhile but the blowout is in.

  • David

    Ya they went almost an entire quarter worth of game time without scoring… Yikes

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