Guard Monta Ellis collected 24 points, six rebounds and seven
assists and forward Dirk Nowitzki added 21 points as the Mavericks
led from wire to wire but had to hang on in the final second to beat
the Phoenix Suns 110-107.
Dallas lost four games in which they led by at least 17 points this
season, most recently Wednesday when they blew a 17-point lead in
Los Angeles and lost 129-127 to the Los Angeles Clippers. This time
a handful of 12-point leads went up in smoke and a 10-point lead
with 2:42 left almost wasn't enough.
"It was a big win, really big. We showed a lot of character," Dallas
coach Rick Carlisle said after his team slipped past the Suns into
the No. 7 spot in the Western Conference. "What happened the other
night is a situation where you have to respond the right way and it
shows the kind of character you have.
"It got hairy at the end, but it gets hairy at the end."
Guard Shane Larkin, son of baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, had
nine of his career-high 18 points in the fourth quarter including
two free throws with 11.1 seconds that gave Dallas a seemingly safe
But guard Goran Dragic cut the Mavericks' lead to three on a layup
with 6.7 seconds left. Dallas guard Vince Carter had his inbounds
pass deflect back and hit him while he was standing out of bounds to
give Phoenix the ball with one last gasp.
But Suns forward P.J. Tucker's shot from the deep right corner — which was ruled a 2-pointer because his foot was on the 3-point line — went halfway down before spinning out with 2.6 seconds left.
Dragic had a game-high 28 points and seven assists and forward
Markieff Morris had 23 points for the Suns, who whittled
double-digit deficits to two points several times, tied it once but
could never take a lead.
The Suns lost four of their last five games, with the last three
losses coming by a total of seven points.
Phoenix missed 15 of 22 3-pointers in the game, continuing their
recent struggles from long range.
"We need to attack the basket more. We are in kind of a shooting
slump right now," Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek said. "We were getting
layups and easy shots and we needed to continue that and not think
you are going to get it all back in one hero play. We have lost a
few games because of it, so maybe we will get the idea."
Larkin played career-high 26 minutes in place of Jose Calderon, who
suffered a right knee bruise in the first half and played only 3:32
in the second half. He hit six of eight shots from the floor and
four free throws in the final 1:19, adding five assists.
"It's the most I've played since college (at Miami) and I was just
out there playing my game," Larkin said. "Coach called the high ball
screen for me (with Nowitzki) and with Dirk I kind of got back to
what I was doing in college. It felt good to go out there and play
[to top of second column]
Carlisle wasn't surprised.
"That's why we drafted (Larkin)," he said. "We felt like he
could have this kind of impact. He made plays down the stretch,
made free throws, hit guys ... he responded in a big way."
The Mavericks shot 58 percent from the field in the first
quarter and took a 23-12 lead on a Nowitzki 3-pointer with 6:26
left. Ellis had 10 points and three assists in the quarter,
which saw the Mavericks score 36 points — the most against
Phoenix this season.
After closing the first quarter with a 7-2 run, the Suns used an
8-0 spurt midway through the second to pull within 44-42 on a
Tucker fast-break layup off a long Markieff Morris feed.
The second half was more of the same. Dallas led by as many as
12 the third quarter and 86-75 early in the fourth. But Markeiff
Morris and forward Marcus Morris reeled off nine straight
Phoenix points, with a Marcus Morris 3-pointer cutting the
Mavericks' lead to 86-84 with 9:43 left.
Dallas appeared to have the game put away when a three-point
play by center Samuel Dalembert pushed the lead back to 10 at
102-92 with 3:02 left. But the Suns kept coming, with 3-pointers
by Markeiff Morris and Tucker setting the stage for their last
"We have games where we can't miss (3-pointers), and you're
going to have streaks like this when you're missing," Tucker
said. "We have to keep playing and keep shooting. It was just
one of those days."
NOTES: Suns G Leandro Barbosa missed his second game with a
sprained right shoulder. His 10-day contract expires Saturday
and Hornacek said GM Ryan McDonough will make a final decision
after Friday's game. "I'm assuming that we'll probably end up
signing him to another 10-day contract," Hornacek said. ...
Carlisle on the Suns' surprise start: "They are one of the most
physical teams in the league. People do not talk much about
that. They defend well. They go after rebounds. They have
toughness. They have great coaching. Hornacek has done a
fantastic job." ... The Mavericks went into the game allowing
14.9 fast-break points per game, 26th best in the NBA. The Suns
led the NBA with 19 fast-break points per game, and had 20 on
Friday. ... The Suns average 108.1 points per game at home this
season. When they reach 110 points, they have won 16 straight
and 23 of the last 24 at the US Airways Center. ... The Suns had
beaten Dallas twice in a row. They haven't beaten the Mavericks
three straight times in the regular season since taking nine in
a row from March 2, 1997 to April 16, 1999.
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