After missing 13 of their first 14 second-half shots, and creating yet another double-digit deficit (15 points), the Suns did their home court hustle and clawed their way back to finally tie the game with 48 seconds left on a three by Markieff Morris (15 points, 17 rebounds) and two free throws by Shannon Brown after a steal.
O.J. Mayo answered with a nothing-but-net fallaway 22-footer with 34 seconds left grab back the lead. Just like the coach drew it up, right?
Once again, the Suns found themselves in a final possession game needing to score. And this time, it was Goran Dragic's turn to miss the key layup to tie the game.
First Beasley. Then Brown. Now Dragic. All layups. All missed. And that doesn't even count O'Neal's fallaway miss. That's three times in the last four games. Just not enough to get it done.
Shannon Brown made it interesting, cutting the lead to one with 3.2 seconds left. But then the Mavs made their free throws and the Suns couldn't get off a good look to tie it.
The Suns came out really flat to start the second half, allowing an 23-4 run to a barely motivated Mavericks team that more than doubled the Suns' game-opening 11-1 run to give fans hope. It was suddenly a bloodbath, and the Mavericks didn't even break a sweat. They just played basketball and let the Suns mess up time after time.
This one had the Mavericks up by 15 points within the first seven minutes of the third. Hey guess what? Another double-digit deficit! Even a couple of substitutions by Gentry did not help stem the tide. Missed free throws, missed layups, balls bouncing right to the Mavericks combined with their hot shooting. Everything that could go wrong for the Suns, went wrong for the Suns. The Suns missed 13 of their first 14 shots in the third quarter.
(At some point, we have to ask if Goran Dragic is part of the problem. He had little handle on the Suns offense all game and has been on the court for nearly every double-digit deficit. But what options do the Suns have beyond playing through it? Telfair is not a starting PG (and he played really, really bad when he was in during the first half).)
Finally, the Suns woke up a bit to cut the lead, but the Mavericks still led by eight at the end of the quarter - 69-62. Suns shot only __% in the first three quarters. U.G.L.Y. Wow. The Mavericks outscored the Suns 29-17 in the quarter, with the Suns making only 1 of their first 13 shots. ONE OF THIRTEEN.
This time, the second unit was ready to go, cutting the lead to four right away. Dragic came back in to pair with Telfair in the backcourt against Collison and Mayo.
But the Mavericks never gave up the lead. The Suns just didn't make enough shots or enough smart plays earlier in the half to grab this game.
Suns started the game on a 11-1 run, then started missing easy shots and allowed the Mavericks to pull back into the game and tie it up by the end of the quarter. I don't like to comment on referees, but at least three of those "easy misses" were hack jobs by the Mavs that were not called. Still, the Suns missed several other close jump shots and then just lost their mojo.
What confused me was that the Suns started the game by throwing the ball down low against the Mavs little lineup and actually dominated, but then started settling for short jumpers. Never a good plan. The Suns should have kept pounding the ball down low, and they just stopped.
Kaman abused Gortat on some possessions, two of them jumpers and another on a drive to the hoop. Gortat did his patented shoulder-drop pout after each one.
To start the second, the Suns played their best lineup (statistically) and had some trouble. They stood around and watched rebounds hit the floor, threw the ball away and generally stunk it up for a bit. Their offense was putrid and their defense was barely passable. The Mavericks, meanwhile, were just hanging around and letting the Suns keep them in the game.
The Suns pulled out to a 6-point lead (34-28), despite horrific offensive execution, by doing something they don't often do: collectively attack the basket area on missed shots, getting easy putbacks and rebounds. Interesting. Maybe Gentry will lock in on that during their film session tomorrow. And this while tall guys Brandon Wright and Chris Kaman were playing.
Then the starters returned (sans Gortat). Dragic did not run the offense well, Beasley
took missed a lot of shots and the Suns went cold. Mavericks promptly went on a 10-4 run.
The Suns finished the half at 44-40 by turning up the effort a bit, but botched two fastbreaks by bad decision-making and only got one point on them. The Suns and Mavericks combined for below average shooting in all phases - field goals, 3-pointers and free throws. Each team had only 8 assists.
For more, visit Mavs Moneyball.
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