That 4th quarter. It hurt to watch. Back and forth, back and forth. For the first 8 minutes it was a tennis match with both teams exchanging buckets and staying within a point or 2 of each other. Then Dirk Nowtizki hit a 3-pointer. Then Monta Ellis scored off a Suns turnover. Then Devin Harris scored his first points of the game by hitting a bomb from deep behind the 3-point line. Just like that the Mavericks had a commanding 8-point lead with 3:03 to go.
But these Phoenix Suns? They don't stop. Maybe they can't stop. Eric Bledsoe (29 points on 11 of 15 shooting) went hard to the hole for 2 points. Then after a rare and merciful Monta miss (15 of 23 on the night for 37 points), Markieff Morris nailed 2 clutch free throws. And the following play, the Bledshow continued with a steal and coast-to-coast fastbreak lay-in. Suns down by 2 with 1:15 to go in the game.
Bledsoe makes 1 of 2 free throws from a loose ball foul: 1 point Mavs lead, 52.7 seconds left.
Dallas timeout. Phoenix foul. Monta Ellis hits 1 of 2 free throws. 2 point Mavs lead, 18.7 seconds to go.
Timeout. Inbound. Bledsoe. Blocked. Monta. Make 1. Miss 1. 3 point Mavs lead. 9.4 seconds.
Inbound. Markieff. 3. Miss. Game.
Say this for the Suns. They left it all on the court. Goran Dragic was not himself tonight playing on the injured ankle. That didn't stop Phoenix from giving their all. Bledsoe finished with 29 points and 6 assists. Channing Frye came up huge when it mattered most with 21 points. Everyone tried hard, but they couldn't all deliver. Markieff Morris, in addition to missing the Suns' last shot missed 5 of the other 7 shots he took for arguably his worst game of the season. Ditto Gerald Green who was an even worse 2-9 from the field.
Give it up for the Dallas Mavericks. Monta Ellis was unstoppable unless he was at the free throw line finishing with 37 points. After a quiet first half, Dirk Nowitzki showed up in a big way in the second half, scoring 21 of his 23 points. And Brandan Wright had a quiet 12 points but a very loud 11 rebounds and 3 blocks. Those blocks changed momentum and the course of the game.
For a while the Suns were too stupid to lose. Maybe now they're just not seasoned enough to win. With this loss, the Suns need to win out and get some help to make the playoffs. It's gonna be a long couple of games to finish the season.
The first quarter started promisingly enough. Channing Frye hit his first 4 3-pointers to pace the Phoenix offense. It looked like Phoenix might jump out big, but turnovers (7) led to several Dallas possessions. At about the 5 minute mark of the quarter, Coach Jeff Hornacek opted to go small, sitting both Channing Frye and Miles Plumlee. It may be a coincidence, but the Mavs immediately had a field day in the key, scoring 20 points in the paint, courtesy of Monta Ellis (8), Brandan Wright (6) and Samuel Dalembert (6). Mavs lead after one: 27-26.
The second quarter can be summed up in one word: Bled-Show. 13 points on 3 pointers, strong drives and free throws (17 in the first half). He led Phoenix to a 31-19 drubbing of Dallas. The Suns shot 60.0% to the Mavs' 33.3%. Strong defensive play by the Suns led to 6 Dallas turnovers. A Monta Ellis (14 first half points) floater at the buzzer cut the Suns' lead to 11, 57-46.
No surprise in the third quarter. Phoenix left the door open and Dallas came back in. Dirk started doing Dirk Things and Monta Ellis kept doing Monta Ellis. The two combined to score 25 of Dallas' 29 third quarter points. They outscored the Suns entirely, who only managed 21 points in the quarter on 42.1% shooting. Phoenix held on to a 3-point lead going into the 4th quarter. Would it be enough?