While Luka Doncic scored or assisted on nearly every single basket when he was in the game, he took over by drawing foul after foul in the fourth quarter to close out the game.
When Luka returned Dallas was up 98-97, and they went on a 21-4 run to take a commanding lead, marred by Suns misses on threes versus Dallas free throws on the other end.
Luka Doncic finished with 42 points (tied for career high), plus 11 assists and 9 rebounds, while Devin Booker had just 16 points and 8 assists on a tough shooting night (5-15 from the floor).
Suns leaders were Kelly Oubre Jr. with 22/10/3/2 and Ricky Rubio with 21/9. But the Suns bench, as mentioned above, did not step up in the needed minutes and, well, the Suns have no one to guard Luka Doncic. No one. Almost no NBA team does, actually.
The game was exciting and contentious until the bad ending, including a few altercations that required the referees to sort out. These teams don’t like each other.
It just became a bad finish for the Suns, with every loose ball ending up with a make for Dallas while the Suns couldn’t put anything good together.
Doncic drew foul after foul, making every free throw.
Just like on Wednesday night, the opponent got stronger while the Suns faded. Booker just didn’t have it.
A highly competitive game ended with Dallas walking away. Sad.
How it went
The Suns came out very focused, though they had obvious mismatches trying to defend the Mavericks (Doncic and Kristaps) and the Mavericks missed some shots.
But then Luka Doncic happened. He scored or assisted on literally every Mavericks basket in the first quarter: 6 baskets (14 points), 6 assists. And the Mavericks led 31-25 after one. All the Suns, pretty much, tried to defend Luka at one point in the quarter and none were effective.
For the Suns, Devin Booker was making some nice passes to his teammates but they just weren’t hitting many (Booker had 4 assists anyway. He couldn’t hit his own (1-4 from the field).
Luka sat the start of the second quarter, but the Suns second group couldn’t really close the gap and then Tim Hardaway Jr. made a couple of broken-play threes to stretch Dallas’ lead to 45-36 before Luka returned.
That’s real bad news for the Suns.
But then the tempers flared, and (you might have guessed it) Aron Baynes came out ahead. And the Suns got pumped, while the Mavericks looked a bit stunned.
The Suns tied the game 50-50 on a pair of Kelly Oubre Jr. threes and the crowd was going NUTS. And this is all thanks to Aron Baynes. And Luka is really pissing off the fans. What a crowd. What engagement. Love it.
But then were a couple of questionable fouls on Doncic (he made 3/4 free throws) while the Suns missed three shots, and found themselves down 53-50 at half.
Saric missed a pair of threes to start the third quarter, but then Ricky drove the ball all the way to the basket to bring the Suns to 53-52.
A couple threes later, Booker made the biggest step back three of his career and put the Suns up 58-56 for their first lead since the first quarter (10-9).
The Suns then pushed the lead up to 67-61 on a Ricky three off a beautiful feed from Booker under the basket, and then up 69-63 on a full speed reach-back BOOKER DUNK followed by a beautiful Rubio feed to Kelly for a layup.
Mavericks timeout. Suns up 71-63!
But then the Suns hit another lull and let the Mavs get it back to 76-71, and 79-74.
The Suns kept the lead until a Luka three tied the game at 87 and then at 89.
Suns-Mavericks tied at 89. Doncic has assisted on 23 of the Mavericks 29 baskets in the game. Those other 6? Five of them came in the beginning of the second quarter when Luka sat out for a rest.