It just wasn't the Phoenix Suns' night. They couldn't buy a bucket in crunch time, which in this game meant the entire second half. Shots were coming up short all night long. Too many open threes being missed. Gerald Green not taking shots with confidence.
The Suns had a shot to tie the game by forcing a turnover, down three, with 6.7 seconds to go.
Markieff Morris had his second great game - 23 and 10 off the bench - while Goran Dragic had 28 points and 7 assists, including 8 in a late-quarter flurry to tighten the game.
P.J. Tucker missed an open three, fittingly, and the game was over.
Dallas Mavericks rookie guard Shane Larkin had a career night with his waterbug size and game (18 points, 5 assists, 2 steals), replacing Jose Calderon who moved like he was playing in sand. Larkin hit a big three when the Suns had cut the lead to three, and then had some nifty drives to the hoop to score and/or draw a foul.
And that's all it takes to lose a game at home against a good Dallas Mavericks team. I'm sure someone will blame the loss on the sleeved jerseys, but it really was a quality Mavericks win on the road.
The game opened with Monta Ellis and Goran Dragic doing the "I should be in the All-Star game! - No, I should!" game. In the first seven minutes, Ellis had 8 points and 3 assists, while Dragic countered with 7 points, 2 assists and 2 steals.
No one else on the Suns really came to play. Plumlee was even pulled due to lack of energy. The Mavericks ran out to a lead that the Suns struggled to recover from.
At the end of 1, the Suns had given up nearly as many points (36) and they'd hung on Dallas in the first Q of the last game (38).
But somehow the Suns were within six at 36-30 anyway, despite the Mavericks shooting 58%.
The Mavs opened the second with Nowitzki and Ellis and retook a 9-point lead while rookie Alex Len made a few mistakes. The Mavs went right at Len and it worked.
Hornacek replaced Len with Plumlee and the Suns went on a run to pull within 1 at one point, thanks mainly to Ish Smith who drove for three layups (fouled on 2, but missed) and assisted on another during the run. The Suns generated second chance points as well.
At one point, the Mavs were shooting 57% for the game, 45% on threes, and still only had a 4 point lead.
Rookies Archie Goodwin and Alex Len had some good run in the second quarter. Len looked lost this game, but Archie had some good energy, including defending Calderon and finishing a put-back slam.
At the half, the Suns used energy to pull within two. They should be happy with that result with the way the Mavs shot the ball. Ultimately, the Mavs only scored 22 second quarter points after that 36-point explosion in the first.
Does everyone remember that this is the one year anniversary of the end of the Alvin Gentry era, the beginning of the four month desolation, and the inception of the franchise rebirth just four months later?
Anyway, let's see if the Suns can finish off THIS January 17th with a win.
The second half started the way the first half did, with the Mavericks making lots of shots. They had 15 points in the first 5 minutes of the half after getting only 22 in the entire second quarter. Not surprisingly, the Mavericks built a 9-point lead with that.
Despite scrambling on defense, the Suns just could not hold back the hot shooting Mavericks, who led by 9 entering the fourth.
In the 4th, a lineup led by Dragic and the Morrii, along with Tucker and Ish, cut the Mavericks lead. The crowd finally awoke when the lead got down to 2 with a pair of Morrii threes.
The Mavericks quickly knocked down 5 points to regain control, but the Suns kept it close. After pulling within three, they proceeded to have three bad possessions in a row with Dragic on the bench: a turnover, quick three and fallaway 20-footer.
After that, the game was all uphill and too steep to get over the top.
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