Steve Nash started slow, but he came on strong in the third quarter, scoring eight points and distributing six assists in a 34-point Phoenix third quarter that saw the Suns take the lead from Dallas and never give it back, breaking an eight game losing streak against the Mavericks, 96-94, Thursday night.
While the Mavs were struggling, Nash and the Suns were thriving with an odd rotational change of their own. Hakim Warrick had played in only two of the last 15 games for the Suns, but with Phoenix needing an boost, Alvin Gentry went to Warrick, who responded with great energy, getting to the free throw line for 10 attempts in his 17 minutes in the second half. He finishing with nine points, four rebounds and a steal.
As Nash was producing in that momentum turning third quarter, so too was Jared Dudley, who led the team in scoring in that quarter with 12 points. Dudley also led four Suns in double figure scoring with 18, hitting on seven of 12 shots and grabbing eight rebounds as well.
Phoenix had gotten the lead to 11 with about six minutes left, when Dallas made its final run at the Suns. Behind Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion, the Mavs went on a 12-3 run to get close again, but couldn't get any help from Vince Carter, who like the Mavs themselves was hot early (6-11, 13 points first half) but cold late (2-10, five points second half). Carter missed all four of his fourth quarter shots, including a three-pointer and a jump shot that was blocked by Marcin Gortat. Carter and Nowitzki led the Mavericks each with 18 points.
The Mavericks still had a chance to win after Grant Hill missed two free throws with 15 seconds left, leaving the Mavs down two with the ball. But after Hill wisely used the Suns' foul to give after Dirk had gotten good position to shoot over him, the Mavericks couldn't get the ball back to Dirk, instead getting a pair of shot attempts from Rodrigue Beaubois that were off the mark, and the Suns got the win.
That Dallas stayed away from Terry late in the game was surprising, even given his recent struggles, considering he is annually among the leaders in fourth quarter baskets, and the Mavericks were struggling to score late. Even this season, Terry is currently fourth in the league in that situational statistic. Dallas ended up shooting 32 percent from the field in the fourth quarter.
East Bay Ray at Bright Side of the Sun tips his proverbial cap to the home team:
This was a gutsy performance by the Suns. It was easy to leave them for dead in that third quarter as the game looked eerily similar to previous losses to the Mavs, but they would not go down without a fight, and the Mavs looked more like the team that had played last night, losing steam as the game went on.
At Mavs Moneyball, andytobo is puzzled about the Mavericks and who should be playing right now:
The Mavs got 13 free throws to Phoenix's 27, got outrebounded 42-38, and still should have won this game going away. They didn't though, which is becoming a bit too common this season. The Mavs closing lineup was Mahimni, Dirk, Kidd, Carter and Marion, which is pretty weird. The final lineup took out Mahimni and put in Roddy, which was also weird. I guess, with Terry and Lamar playing the way they've been playing, Delonte and Haywood out, it's pretty hard to find the answers.