The fun part of playing the Mavericks in Dallas is watching Steve Nash pull magic out of a hat. Without him tonight, we wouldn't all be sitting here saying, we should have just won that game.
This one stings. It stings because we had many, many, many chances to win down the stretch. One or two or three shots made here and there, and well...
The Suns came out ready to play. You could sense how much they wanted this one by the speed and aggressiveness of their play in the opening quarter. Jason Richardson was active early playing the full first quarter and bucketing 8 points and 5 rebounds. Steve Nash chipped in 8 of his own while Amare Stoudemire scored 6.
Early foul trouble led to early appearances from Lou Amundson and Jared Dudley. The Suns ended the first quarter led by Dudley and Nash on a 9-2 run.
In the second, the Suns continued to shoot over 50% and execute. A Dragic 3 led to a Suns 8-point lead at the midway point of the second period.
But Dallas fought back. Dirk Nowitzki made a variety of impossible shots and benefited by a clear ghost call on a three point play (he wasn't touched). For some reason the Suns either didn't recognize Jose Juan Berea asa member of the opposing team or couldn't make the rotation to cover him as he scored 12 early points, 3 of his baskets came on wide open looks. The Suns led 50-49 at the half.
In the third quarter, Nowitzki and Howard went to work on the Suns, scoring 13 points while Stoudemire and Nash kept things within striking range.
Down the stretch, the Suns had many chances to erase the Mav's lead. But every time they began a small run off of a defensive stop or Mavericks turnover, they couldn't make the shots. Down by 5, Channing Frye was left open for a three and bricked one from long range. Jason Richardson stole a Jason Terry pass and attempted to out run 3 Mavericks to the rim, but instead ran over Jason Kidd for a charge.
As much as this game should have been a win for the Suns, we have to give some credit to the Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki (33 points, 8 boards) and Josh Howard (20 points, 6 boards) had huge nights. Nowitzki was virtually unstoppable, hitting his fade away and nearly everything else he lobbed into the air (12-20). Josh Howard was basically a game time decision to play. Coming off the bench Howard played 26 effective minutes.
The Suns never really recaptured the energy from the first quarter, but managed to stay in the game and keep it close in the 4th. That's when Nash decided he would not lose without giving Mark Cuban a little something to remember him by...:
- Dirk Nowitzki hit a high arching two putting the Mavericks up 7 with less than 2 minutes to play. Jason Terry followed up with a layup to put the Mavericks up 9. But Stoudemire followed with a 3 point play and Nash hit a typical Nash-esque off-balanced three to pull to within 3 points with less than a minute to go.
- With 45 seconds left the Mavericks had the ball and went right to Nowitzki with Jared Dudley in his grill. With nowhere to go Nowtzki passed out to Jason Kidd who drilled a wide open three. (LOUD SIGH)
- After a time out, the Suns set up a nice inbound play for Jason Richardson, who rubbed off a Grant Hill screen and knocked down a three to bring the Mavs lead to 98-96. After two Jason Terry free throws, the Suns had the ball with 11 seconds left, and guess what happened??? Steve Nash swished another long range three to bring the Suns within one.
Jason Terry missed the first of his two free throws and purposely missed the second as the Suns had no timeouts left to stop the clock. GAME OVER.
Other Thoughts and Observations
- Could this game have looked any more even from the boxscore?:
Suns 44.3% FG, Mavericks 44.7%
Suns 7-19 3PT, Mavericks 6-23
Suns 40 rebounds, Mavericks 42
Suns 24-25 FT, Mavericks 20-23
Suns 15 TO, Mavericks 13
- In the second quarter Robin Lopez ripped a rebound away from Drew Gooden. Lopez is a strong man, but he simply wanted the ball more than Gooden. Even though play ended in a jump ball, the Suns ended up winning the tip. I like what I am seeing from Fropez.
- It's strange watching Shawn Marion play for another team. I never watched him play for the Heat, but he clearly affects the game when he is on the floor. His outside shot looks more atrocious than ever, but his floater is still pretty sweet.
- Josh Howard played great for a guy who missed the prior 13 games while rehabbing an ankle injury.
- It was apparrant there is a major difference when Lou Amundson is on the floor, chasing down the ball, never quitting on a play.
- I loved the Amare jump pass to J-Rich for the dunk in the first quarter. They must be working on that one in practice.
- Has Jason Terry ever committed a foul? Better yet has he ever committed a foul on not complained about it? I loved him at U of A, but they guy needs to stop crying.
- I liked the way the Suns played tonight. If we are not in the Lakers class in the upper tier of the Western Conference, we are certainly in the second tier, amongst the 4-6 seeds. I would think Leandro Barbosa could have helped out in this one
- The next stretch of games will tell us a lot more about how the Phoenix Suns rank within the Western Conference:
Fri 12/11 vs Orlando
Sat 12/12 @Denver
Tues 12/15 vs San Antonio
Thurs 12/17 @Portland