Both teams left most of their defense at home on this night. The Dallas Mavericks defended the rim but not the jump shooters after rotations, while the Phoenix Suns didn't defend much of anything at all.
But the Suns made a lot more jumpers than the Mavericks, and that's the tale of the game of this high-scoring yet kinda boring game.
It was kinda like an All-Star game - lots of nice shots and moves on offense, good ball movement, and not a lick of defense to stop anyone. In other words, boring. Only mildly entertaining.
Maybe, probably, it's that both teams were on a back-to-back. Maybe it's the profile of both teams to win with offense. Maybe it's all that and more.
But the Suns won it and nothing else matters.
Suns 123, Mavericks 108
Bledsoe had 25 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds and a steal while Gerald Green poured in 22 points off the bench.
Otherwise, the Suns outrebounded the Mavericks by 8 (mostly on their umpteen missed shots), and survived 18 turnovers and 8 blocked shots thanks to their shooting.
The Suns started the game with two turnovers, not a good start after the big win in Denver the other night. Luckily, the Mavericks were just as sketchy and the game stayed close until the Suns made a few threes and suddenly it was a 15-6 Suns lead before we knew what happened.
It was then that Mavericks coach Rick Carlysle did what Gregg Popovich did two games ago: he pulled his lumbering big after getting embarrassed by Channing Frye's three pointers. On Wednesday, Pop waited for 12 Frye points before pulling Tiago Splitter. In this game, Carlysle pulled DeJuan Blair after only six Frye points (two threes). Both times, it's the Suns forcing the other team to adapt.
(Side note: at one point, Jose Calderon fell over like he was shot. Bledsoe was called for the foul, but I think Calderon pulled a butt muscle. He stayed in the game, so it will be interesting to see how it progresses.)
The Mavericks then went really small - with Shawn Marion and Brandon Wright their bigs - to try to match the Suns speed and space the defense effectively, but it did not help much. After playing the last 20 minutes of the overtime loss on Friday night, Mavericks coach vowed to pull Dirk Nowitzki early and often tonight. Nowitzki sat after just 6 minutes in the first without having made a field goal yet (he was 4-4 on FTs).
Both teams went deep into their bench early on, after having played tough games the night before. By the three minute mark of the first quarter, with the Suns up 27-14, the Mavericks had three bench players out there (with Marion and Ellis) against the Suns' four bench players (and Bledsoe).
Gerald Green stayed hot from the night before, making his first three three-pointers, and the Suns ended the first quarter with a huge 38-25 lead.
The second quarter began worse for the Suns - allowing a 11-4 Mavericks start by committing multiple turnovers and taking bad shots. Only a Goodwin drive and nice post up turnaround by Markieff Morris resulted in points during the Mavericks' run.
By late in the second quarter, the Mavericks had pulled within three (47-44) despite making six fewer three-pointers to that point. They had taken 9 more shots than the Suns overall, plus three more FTs, thanks to the Suns turnovers (10) and their own offensive rebounding (7).
Gerald Green was such a force on three pointers after making his first three, he was fouled on two attempts to add 6 more points to his total the freebie way.
The game was basically a snooze-fest in that second quarter as the Suns sleepwalked to a 63-58 halftime score. That was the most boring 121-point first half I may have ever seen.
First half highlights:
- Gerald Green had 15 of his 19 points on threes (3 made, plus 6 more free throws on fouls drawn)
- Eric Bledsoe had 14 points, but he and Dragic had more turnovers (5) than assists (3) between them in the half
- Monta Ellis, Dirk Nowitzki and Brandon Wright had 34 of the Mavericks' 58 points
As it was on Wednesday night against the Spurs, the first team that plays consistent defense in the second half will win the game. Last time, it was the Spurs. This time, will it be the Suns?
Start of the second half.
The combination of Shawn Marion and Brandon Wright were really making it hard on the Suns to score in the paint, at one point forcing four consecutive putback misses by the Suns from point blank range and only allowing 16 first-half points in the paint.
But the Suns were making enough outside shots to make up for that deficit, and built the lead to 11 points (73-62) in just the first 2.5 minutes of the second half.
The Mavericks made another mini-run to cut the lead to 4, but then the Suns built it back up to 12 quickly.
Despite the Suns lead, the Mavericks were feasting on Suns drives, either knocking the ball away on the drive or swatting it at the rim.
But the Suns held strong, and took a 9 point lead into the 4th (91-82).
After Marcus Morris opened the 4th with a 3 to build the lead to 12, Vince Carter made a three, drew an offensive foul, and dropped a sweet shot to keep the Mavericks in the game.
It's like Vince has something in for the Suns? Maybe it's bad memories of the Coalition to Light Vince Carter On Fire (fire-club president Scott Howard)? Carter had only a few months in Phoenix, but since then he appears he really relish in playing well against the Suns.