Both teams were on a back to back, so defense was not at a premium. The Phoenix Suns made 15-30 three point shots to beat the Mavericks without needing any of that missing defense.
Both teams left most of their defense at home on this night. The Dallas Mavericks defended the rim but not the jump shooters after rotations, while the Phoenix Suns didn't defend much of anything at all.
But the Suns made a lot more jumpers than the Mavericks, and that's the tale of the game of this high-scoring yet kinda boring game.
It was kinda like an All-Star game - lots of nice shots and moves on offense, good ball movement, and not a lick of defense to stop anyone. In other words, boring. Only mildly entertaining.
Maybe, probably, it's that both teams were on a back-to-back. Maybe it's the profile of both teams to win with offense. Maybe it's all that and more.
But the Suns won it and nothing else matters.
Bledsoe had 25 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds and a steal while Gerald Green poured in 22 points off the bench.
Otherwise, the Suns outrebounded the Mavericks by 8 (mostly on their umpteen missed shots), and survived 18 turnovers and 8 blocked shots thanks to their shooting.
The Suns started the game with two turnovers, not a good start after the big win in Denver the other night. Luckily, the Mavericks were just as sketchy and the game stayed close until the Suns made a few threes and suddenly it was a 15-6 Suns lead before we knew what happened.
It was then that Mavericks coach Rick Carlysle did what Gregg Popovich did two games ago: he pulled his lumbering big after getting embarrassed by Channing Frye's three pointers. On Wednesday, Pop waited for 12 Frye points before pulling Tiago Splitter. In this game, Carlysle pulled DeJuan Blair after only six Frye points (two threes). Both times, it's the Suns forcing the other team to adapt.
(Side note: at one point, Jose Calderon fell over like he was shot. Bledsoe was called for the foul, but I think Calderon pulled a butt muscle. He stayed in the game, so it will be interesting to see how it progresses.)
The Mavericks then went really small - with Shawn Marion and Brandon Wright their bigs - to try to match the Suns speed and space the defense effectively, but it did not help much. After playing the last 20 minutes of the overtime loss on Friday night, Mavericks coach vowed to pull Dirk Nowitzki early and often tonight. Nowitzki sat after just 6 minutes in the first without having made a field goal yet (he was 4-4 on FTs).
Both teams went deep into their bench early on, after having played tough games the night before. By the three minute mark of the first quarter, with the Suns up 27-14, the Mavericks had three bench players out there (with Marion and Ellis) against the Suns' four bench players (and Bledsoe).
Gerald Green stayed hot from the night before, making his first three three-pointers, and the Suns ended the first quarter with a huge 38-25 lead.
The second quarter began worse for the Suns - allowing a 11-4 Mavericks start by committing multiple turnovers and taking bad shots. Only a Goodwin drive and nice post up turnaround by Markieff Morris resulted in points during the Mavericks' run.
By late in the second quarter, the Mavericks had pulled within three (47-44) despite making six fewer three-pointers to that point. They had taken 9 more shots than the Suns overall, plus three more FTs, thanks to the Suns turnovers (10) and their own offensive rebounding (7).
Gerald Green was such a force on three pointers after making his first three, he was fouled on two attempts to add 6 more points to his total the freebie way.
The game was basically a snooze-fest in that second quarter as the Suns sleepwalked to a 63-58 halftime score. That was the most boring 121-point first half I may have ever seen.
First half highlights:
As it was on Wednesday night against the Spurs, the first team that plays consistent defense in the second half will win the game. Last time, it was the Spurs. This time, will it be the Suns?
Start of the second half.
The combination of Shawn Marion and Brandon Wright were really making it hard on the Suns to score in the paint, at one point forcing four consecutive putback misses by the Suns from point blank range and only allowing 16 first-half points in the paint.
But the Suns were making enough outside shots to make up for that deficit, and built the lead to 11 points (73-62) in just the first 2.5 minutes of the second half.
The Mavericks made another mini-run to cut the lead to 4, but then the Suns built it back up to 12 quickly.
Despite the Suns lead, the Mavericks were feasting on Suns drives, either knocking the ball away on the drive or swatting it at the rim.
But the Suns held strong, and took a 9 point lead into the 4th (91-82).
After Marcus Morris opened the 4th with a 3 to build the lead to 12, Vince Carter made a three, drew an offensive foul, and dropped a sweet shot to keep the Mavericks in the game.
It's like Vince has something in for the Suns? Maybe it's bad memories of the Coalition to Light Vince Carter On Fire (fire-club president Scott Howard)? Carter had only a few months in Phoenix, but since then he appears he really relish in playing well against the Suns.
Both the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks are off to surprisingly good starts to the season, which makes a clash between the teams very exciting indeed. Former Suns Shawn Marion and Vince Carter return to the scene, usually bringing their A-games.
Phoenix Suns fans are no doubt still reveling in the 21-point comeback win last night IN DENVER to beat the 14-10 (now 14-11) Nuggets. But there's no rest for the weary. After an emotional win, the Suns will face the surging Dallas Mavericks in Phoenix tonight in another early-season clash of playoff contenders.
The Dallas Mavericks are off to a big start mainly thanks to an 11-4 home record (vs. 4-8 road record). They have feasted on Eastern competition: 7-3 vs the East, 8-8 vs. the West. On back-to-backs, like tonight's game, the older Mavericks are a solid 4-3 so don't count on them dragging butt.
Their lineup and overall rotation is a collection of players very well known to Suns fans. From former MVP Dirk Nowitzki to to former Suns Vince Carter and Shawn Marion, they also boast a collection of players Suns fans wanted in trade in past years (Brandon Wright, DeJuan Blair) and long time NBA starters (Samuel Dalembert, Jose Calderon).
The Mavericks lineup is old. Five of their regular rotation players are 32 or older (Calderon, Dalembert, Nowitzki, Marion, Carter) while the Suns don't have a single active player (not counting Okafor) over 30.
Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki have been a great 1-2 punch for the Mavs, with Brandon Wright helping solidify the front line after returning this week from injury.
In a surprising note, the Mavericks have actually gone 5-2 on Saturday nights already this year.
In looking at the Suns splits, it sure looks like they won't play well tonight: 0-1 on Saturdays (vs. Mavs 5-2 record), 1-4 on the second night of back-to-backs (vs. Mavs 4-3 record).
Where the Suns fair well is at home overall (8-4 vs. Mavs 4-8 road record) and against the West so far this year (Suns are 12-8 against the West, while the Mavs are 8-8).
The Mavs assist and steal at a better rate than the Suns, but otherwise their stats are very similar.
DeJuan Blair took over several games ago in the starting lineup in place of Sam Dalembert, but otherwise both lineups are predictable.
As always for the Suns, a key matchup will be the guard play. The Suns Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe have had a couple of bad nights in the shooting department, but overall they drive the success of the Suns with both averaging better than 18 and 6.
But really, the biggest matchup is anyone trying to cover the unguardable Dirk Nowitzki. That dude is so talented and talented, you might as well call him STAT. Can Channing Frye or Markieff Morris effectively keep Dirk off his game? Or will the extra attention to Dirk leave the lanes open for Ellis drives (leads the league with 10 drives a night) and Marion/Wright/Dalembert/etc feasting on the boards at each end?
I want the Suns to win this game but I think it's really a toss up. The Suns are not good on the back end of back-to-backs, yet they are pretty good at home overall.
Suns by 4.