How it happened: Dallas’ stars delivered and the Mavs got a major lift from rookie point guard Shane Larkin.
Monta Ellis led the Mavs with 24 points and seven assists, making 10 of 20 shots from the floor. Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting. Shawn Marion added 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting and a team-high-tying seven rebounds.
Those kinds of performances are expected out of the Mavs’ established veterans. The best performance of Larkin’s young NBA career was a pleasant surprise that was a crucial element to the Mavs’ win.
Larkin, who was pushed into playing heavy minutes because starter Jose Calderon got in early foul trouble and then exited with a right knee contusion, came through by scoring a season-high 18 points and dishing out five assists.
The 5-foot-11 Larkin provided a huge spark in the third quarter after checking into the game when Calderon picked up his third foul at the 10:45 mark. Larkin had six points, three assists and two steals in the quarter to help the Mavs stretch a lead that was two points at halftime to as large as 12.
Larkin helped the Mavs take a 10-point lead with less than three minutes remaining and scored six points in the final few minutes. But the Suns, led by Goran Dragic's 28 points, still had a chance to send the game into overtime on their final possession. Dallas dodged a bullet when P.J. Tucker’s open 3-pointer from the right corner rimmed out.
What it means: The Mavs salvaged a split of their two-game road trip and moved ahead of the Suns in the Western Conference standings. Dallas sits alone in seventh place after improving its record to 24-17. The Suns, who have lost six of nine since guard Eric Bledsoe underwent knee surgery, fell to 22-17. The Mavs evened the season series, with a rubber match scheduled for April 12 in Dallas.
Play of the game: Larkin came off a double screen on the right wing, drove into the heart of the defense and lofted a pass to Samuel Dalembert in position for the big man to lay it up. Dalembert finished despite getting fouled, hitting the free throw to give the Mavs a 10-point lead with 3:02 remaining.
Stat of the night: Larkin became the first Maverick to have at least 18 points and five assists as a 21-year-old since Nowitzki in 1999-00. Jason Kidd and Jamal Mashburn are the only other 21-year-olds in franchise history to produce similar stat lines.