Game five started the way the last two games had gone in Dallas — REALLY slow and plodding — and the Phoenix Suns found themselves down 38-30 half way through the second quarter.
Seemed so much like those last two games. The Dallas Mavericks were controlling tempo, running the shot clock down on almost every possession, holding the Suns to one shot and done... and it looked like Dallas had the Suns number.
But then, to keep the analogy going, the Suns changed their number. And blew out the Mavericks the rest of the way by forcibly increasing the tempo on every Dallas miss.
They finished the half on a 19-8 run to take a 49-46 lead, then blew the game open in the third quarter to take a 24-point lead before Dallas knew what had hit them.
The Suns outscored the Mavs 52-22 from the 7:24 mark of the second quarter to the end of the third quarter, forcing 12 turnovers from the Mavericks in that third quarter alone.
Devin Booker was the star of the show and Chris Paul pulled all the strings with his passing. Booker had 28 points on 11-19 shooting through three quarters and Chris Paul had 8 assists.
The fourth quarter was just a matter of playing out the string, as both teams dialed back their intensity after that crazy run.
The Suns accomplished all this despite Chris Paul still struggling to find his own offense, Deandre Ayton getting into quick foul trouble. The rest of the Suns really showed up in this one with balanced scoring and spirited defense.
Monty Williams changed up the rotation, giving Cameron Payne the night off and JaVale McGee shifted down to the third-string center. Devin Booker and Landry Shamet had the primary ball handling duties after Chris Paul, and Bismack Biyombo got the back up center minutes.
Suns win, 110-80.
The Suns now have a 3-2 lead in this best-of-seven series with Game 6 on Thursday night in Dallas.
A ‘Suns in 6’ chant started as Cameron Johnson took the final free throws.
On the first play, DA gets the ball and drives toward the hoop, into the body of Dwight Powell, both on the move... DA called for offensive foul. Stared down the ref the whole way back down the floor. DA was doing what we all want, and got called a foul for it.
Three plays later, a turnover by Chris Paul on a bad pass. And that baloney’d a pair of threes by Luka and Dorian Finney-Smith.
Not a great start, Suns. Mavs up 10-3.
The Suns started scoring, but they were still trading 2s for 3s. Suns got down 15-9, with Mavs 3-5 on threes already — 9 points on threes + 6 in the paint — while the Suns were 4 in the paint, 2 on middy and just 3 on threes.
Ayton collected his second foul just five minutes into the game as did Mavs center Dwight Powell, except the Mavs want to replace their starting center (with Maxi Kleber) and the Suns do not. In comes Bismack Biyombo (and not JaVale McGee).
The rest of the quarter was an adventure, but the Mavs and Suns could not really pull away from each other. The Suns missed three straight open threes to tie the game at the end of the quarter, but missed them all.
Suns down, 26-23, after one quarter. Mavericks with 53/50/100 splits vs. Suns 50/25/75 splits. Suns lucky to be down only the three points.
To start the second quarter, it seemed like every Sun was afraid to shoot, but Cam Johnson got an offensive rebound and put-back off good effort.
After making an open three on one possession, Jae Crowder immediately tries a heat check step-in-step-back-one-dribble-side-step three — you know, the kind he has never made in a game.
Dallas continues to really lean into falling down on every bit of contact, and the refs are rewarding it nearly every time. They’ve gone to theater school, I think. They even laughed about it after the last game, and the refs are okay with it.
Meanwhile, the Suns are letting it get to them AGAIN, and not responding with tighter play. They are still letting the Mavs get open threes, letting them drive one-on-one into the paint, still letting them run down the shot clock to almost zero to get the matchup they want. And not forcing the issue on the other end.
All this could change at any time, mind you. Just saying what I’m seeing through Suns being down 38-30. Doncic, Brunson and f-ing Davis Bertans have 27 of the Mavs 38 points. Bertans got 7 points on TWO touches.
FINALLY the Suns started pushing the ball on Mavericks misses, running hard, making hit-ahead passes, and got the score tied 40-40 for the first time all game.
Suns took their first lead of the game 44-42 with 2:15 to go in the half, their first lead since three minutes into Game 4.
The teams traded buckets and misses the rest of the half, and led 49-46 at halftime. Dallas shooting is down to 40/37/80 splits, while the Suns are still bad at 47/28/83. The Suns closed the half on a 19-8 scoring run.
The second half opened with a Luka turnover followed by another Jae side-step three miss, a Luka middy, a Booker drive, a Brunson middy, and a Booker three.
The Suns got a couple put-backs from DA, then a Mikal Bridges steal and Booker three — where Luka didn’t even move from the back court — put the Suns up 61-50 and forced another Dallas timeout.
That’s a 31-12 run now for the Suns.
The Suns continued pouring it on through the third quarter, taking a 78-54 lead even after bringing in the second unit guys (no Cam Payne today though. Book is the point guard when Chris Paul sits). That got up to a 48-16 run before Jalen Brunson made some shots at the end of the quarter.
Suns finish the third quarter up 82-60.
That’s overall a 52-22 run since getting down 38-30.
Dallas is shook, and the fourth quarter was mostly about playing out the string.