- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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How it happened: The Mavericks have a new worst-loss-of-the-season front-runner.
The Phoenix Suns limped into the American Airlines Center with the West’s worst record and a 10-game losing streak. They left with a victory over a Dallas team whose fate seems to be to fail to reach .500 for the rest of the season.
The Suns had runs of 21-4, 16-3 and 12-0. The last of those runs came in response to the Mavs' storming out of halftime to erase a 10-point deficit.
Dallas, which got into the bonus with 8:29 remaining in the fourth quarter, managed to trim the deficit to four with a couple of minutes to play but never got any closer. Phoenix’s P.J. Tucker hit the dagger 3 from the corner with 1:01 remaining to push the Suns’ lead back to nine.
Tucker was one of six Suns to score in double figures. Point guard Goran Dragic led Phoenix with 21 points and 13 assists, slicing through the Dallas defense on pick-and-roll plays all night.
What it means: The Mavs’ .500 beards will keep on growing while Dallas’ playoff hopes hang by a thread that could be snipped if the Los Angeles Lakers win in Portland late Wednesday night. The Suns improved to 24-55.
Play of the game: Suns center Jermaine O’Neal hit a midrange jumper early in the fourth quarter to extend the Suns’ lead to 14. It was a pretty ordinary play, but O’Neal’s celebration while jogging down the floor was extraordinary. He smacked Rick Carlisle on the rear as he ran by. Carlisle, who coached O’Neal in Indiana, did not appear to be amused.
Stat of the night: The Suns snapped two 10-game losing streaks. They had lost their previous 10 games overall and their previous 10 games at the American Airlines Center. The latter streak dated to March 14, 2007.