How it happened: Dallas failed to close out on shooters early, as Phoenix took a 15-6 lead within the first five minutes of the game. The Mavericks tried to play straight up and with their zone defense, but neither option worked. Both teams played the previous night, but it was quite obvious Dallas was rolling on tired legs.
The weary legs were evident on offense, as well, with Dallas starting the game 3-of-11 from the field. Nowitzki and Monta Ellis combined to start the game 0-of-7 from the field. Phoenix hit seven shots from 3-point range on 10 attempts to take a 38-25 lead at the end of one.
After starting the game 0-of-5 from the field, Nowitzki hit his first bucket of the game with 9:12 left in the first half. Led by its bench, Dallas finally delivered in the energy department in the second quarter. It also took advantage of some unforced turnovers by the Suns. After falling behind by as many as 15, Dallas slowly crept back into the game, reducing the deficit to three points with just less than five minutes to go in the half. Phoenix led 63-58 at the half.
Due to his energy and productivity in the first half, Brandan Wright started the second half at center for Dallas. Phoenix pushed the tempo to start the third period on a 10-4 run. Dallas quickly responded with a 7-0 run of its own to get within four points. The runs continued after an exchange of baskets as the Suns countered with eight straight points. After all of that, Phoenix took a nine-point lead into the final frame.
The early portion of the fourth quarter saw Dallas continually get closer, but Phoenix ultimately kept the Mavericks at bay with perimeter jumpers. Dallas’ woes on defense continued as it didn’t have an answer for the Suns’ dribble penetration.
What it means: Dallas suffered an ugly set of back-to-back losses. The Mavericks’ woes on D continue as they allowed 123 points in the loss. Meanwhile, Phoenix impresses as it moves into sixth in the Western Conference with a record of 16-10.
Play of the game: Ellis drove to the rim and found a cutting Wright, who finished with a slam dunk with 3.6 seconds left in the first half. In a moment of slippage, Dallas allowed Goran Dragic to score an uncontested layup with 1.1 left in the half. That play was a microcosm of Dallas’ night in terms of defense. It simply wasn’t there.
Stat of the night: The Mavericks had 62 points in the paint, but they were dreadful in terms of perimeter defense against Phoenix, which had 45 points from beyond the arc (15-of-30 shooting). It was the second straight games in which Dallas tallied at least 60 points in the paint. After losing both tilts, the Mavs now are 14-4 since 1985-86 when they score at least 60 points in the paint.