Rest up this weekend, Steve.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

A frustrating game because the Suns could have won it, while in the same breath I see how Dallas is winning so many games. The Mavericks don't get rattled. Dirk Nowitzki just goes ahead and makes a fallaway or two, or Jason Terry runs around a few picks for an open jumper. 

Notice both of those example are jump shots, which the Suns' defense is designed to entice. Jumpers are less valuable than layups, dunks and 'and 1s', while the Suns almost always outscore the other team on 3-ptrs.

The Suns outrebounded the Mavs by 4, outscored them in the paint by 10 and made 1 more free throw. Generally, that spells a win.

But contested jumpers were the difference in this game. The Mavericks scored SEVENTY of their 112 points on jump shots (outside the paint). 70. Seven-oh. 

It helps to get Dirk's best shooting night of the entire season (35 points on 13-18 shooting, including 3-3 on 3-pointers and 6-6 on free throws). We all know Dirk is a great shooter, but that's ridiculous. He hasn't been that good all season, and nearly every shot was a jumper.

Centers

Dallas' C combo Tyson Chandler/Brendan Haywood combined for 19 points and 17 rebounds, which sounds good until you compare it to the Suns' C combo of Robin Lopez and Marcin Gortat that produced 22 and 19. In fact, the Suns won the rebounding battle 43-39.

Substitution patterns

Dallas' substitution patterns were quite interesting, and not suited to the Suns' substitution pattern at all.

Nowitzki, Kidd and Chandler spent a lot of time playing against the Suns' second unit along with Terry and Marion. That's a starting lineup right there. Beaubois and Stojakovic are not as good as Terry and Marion, but it works when you're surrounding them with Dirk and Kidd. Moreso than most teams, the Mavs sub guys in and out like a hockey team. 

The Suns, on the other hand, play all their starters as starters and their bench players as bench players. And Gentry likes to sub them in the way D'Antoni always used to - at the end of the 1st/3rd and beginning of 2nd/4th. This is like most other teams in the NBA.

Defense

The Suns' improved defense gave up 112 points on 52% shooting to the Mavericks. Ouch. But when I watched the game, I didn't see the Suns playing the Ole! defense of times past. Dallas was not running a layup line. In fact, only 42 of their 112 points were in the paint. By contrast, the Suns scored 52 of their 106 in the paint - a much better balance.

The Suns' defense wants teams to shoot jumpers. Certainly, those are lower percentage than layups and dunks and 'and 1s', and they did that with Dallas. 70 of Dallas' points came outside the paint area on jumpers, with a hand in their face nearly every time. I can count on one hand how many wide open shots the Mavs got. Yet, still they scored 70 points on jumpers.

Suns notes

Channing Frye played well again (24 and 8, 9-14 shooting), and Robin Lopez played his best game since early November (13 and 13). Nash was Nash (15 and 14) and Goran Dragic played better than he has in 2 weeks (5 and 3),

Anyway, a loss is a loss. The Suns played well enough to win. But Dallas shot LIGHTS OUT, Dirk had his best game of the year in terms of shooting, and Dallas won a squeaker.

It's better than a stick in the eye.

Enjoy the break!

[Note by Seth Pollack, 02/18/11 12:46 AM MST ]

Yes, Channing went to the Office Space quote...

Phoenix Suns Fall To Dirk And The Dallas Mavericks, 112-106 - SB Nation Arizona
The Suns reaching .500 is bitter-sweet goal according to Frye, "It's like we have the minimum amount of flare for all the Office Space fans."

And for Robin, it's all about not worrying and being happy...

Robin Lopez, Happy Or Mad But Not Bland - Desert Dirt - SB Nation Arizona
"Steve (Nash) took me in earlier and told me to make sure I'm having fun out there and not to get too down on myself or anything," Lopez said. Nash explained that this was a happy team and he needed to be happy.

Audio:

Game Notes

1st Qtr

  • Grant starts out on J-Kidd, w/ VC on Peja and Frye on Dirk
  • Robin shaved for TNT, I guess
  • Makes him look younger...might also make him look more energetic
  • Energy in the building is really high
  • Dirk hits two J's w/ Frye on him. How long before Hill gets the call?
  • Couple of good steals from the Suns....nice start
  • Mavs going right at Nash w/ Roddy B
  • Robin looks fantastic so far...nice bounce to his step...and hair
  • JT in for Roddy. Boos for the Jet
  • Mavs hitting some outside shots, up 17-14....this really has the feel of a great game. Maybe it's just b/c I am sitting center court at the scorers' table. Yup, I dropped that, suckers
  • 4 pts, 4 reb for Robin in that first stint. Birthday boy in
  • Tyson Chandler is looking athletic again...wow
  • Dirk is unreal
  • Nice hand for the Matrix...not huge but nice
  • Hilldunk
  • Pace of the game is very much in Suns favor...Mavs played last night
  • I liked DeShawn Stevenson a lot more when he has that huge beard...now he's just some dude
  • Really bad lob pass attempt from Frye to Gortat. He was smothered
  • MP 4 3
  • Everyone's mad at Violet Palmer for calling the blocking foul on MP but he seemed like he was in the circle when he took the hit
  • 28-25, Mavs. Pretty good start for Suns. Can't accuse them of playing flat

2nd Qtr

  • Dragic coming in. He was as serious as I've ever seen him in the locker room before the game. Nervous or focused? Stay tuned
  • Mavs shooting lights out...don't really think the Suns defense is that bad
  • OK, MP. Feel free to remember you are not Kobe Bryant
  • Gentry pissed at Gortat for not fouling Haywood harder and preventing the bucket. Robin coming in
  • Dragic looking good so far
  • Warrick not hedging the screen hard enough allows Terry to get into the paint
  • Nice pressure D from Dragic and Warrick forces turnover
  • 39-32, Mavs but they're starters are in the game logging minutes
  • Dragic and Roddy don't seem like either can guard the other
  • Dirk = sick. Warrick right up under his chin and he just leans back and shoots
  • 12 for Dirk so far...wonder if Grant can cool him off at all
  • 14
  • Now Dirk sits as Grant comes in. Chicken
  • 36-43, Mavs. Dallas D looks pretty good in person
  • TNT timeouts and halftimes even longer than ESPN (or so I am told by the Suns PA announcer)
  • Frye posts up Terry and then Kidd comes over to help so he posts him too and scores
  • Still think this pace helps Suns. We'll see if Mavs can make these shots late in the game
  • The thing I love most about sitting courtside is hearing the players, coaches and refs...yes, I am just rubbing it in now
  • Solid inside D by Robin on Tyson
  • If Vince ever comes away from a play where he touched another player and he's not holding some part of his body and wincing, I've not seen it
  • Nice drive and finish, Vince. More please
  • MP being as physical as he can possibly be w/ Dirk. Gets called for the foul which I think is fair. Still like the aggression from MP to at least try and make Dirk uncomfortable
  • Great help D by Robin to block Dirk posting up MP
  • 54-51. Suns playing really well here

3rd Qtr

  • Game on
  • Peja loses Vince running off a few screens and Steve finds him for a dunk
  • Roddy for three...damn. These guys have to cool off at some point
  • Vince bringing his big boy game so far. Someone much have reminding him that he's being guarded by Peja and that's not acceptable
  • Love the cheap buckets for Robin. He used to get a lot of those just by hanging around the rim
  • I need to put down the twitter and watch more of the game
  • Nice. Mavs switch and Steve goes immediately to Frye in the post vs a guard.
  • Come on Frye, put a hand up when you are closing on Dirk at the three-point line
  • 12 for Robin
  • Dirk missing a few now...phew
  • Good hard foul by Frye to prevent Chandler from getting a dunk on a fast break
  • 68-67, Suns
  • Really happy w/ the way the Suns are playing tonight
  • Nash thugging it up with JET
  • Grant = REJECTION!
  • That was really good defense by the Suns but Stevenson hit a contested shot late in the clock...
  • 78-75, Suns. 2:42
  • Dragic coming in now for Nash. I like it. Nash can start his rest sooner and then come back in earlier in the fourth
  • Twice the Suns try and post up Gortat on Dirk and twice it fails. 85-80, Mavs. Big run for them
  • Dragic stepped out on the baseline. Gentry's not happy with him

4th Qtr

  • Terry is doing a lot of damage with his dribble penetration and kick outs
  • 87-80, Mavs. 12-2 run since Nash sat. Yikes
  • Nice move by Goran. Suns need a stop
  • Suns get a stop and Goran gets to the line.
  • Gentry not pleased w/ that pass out of the post by Gortat...then Dirk hits a three. Time out. 90-83, 8:50. Nash has to be coming back in now w/ Hill
  • Carter, Robin, Frye, MP and Nash back in. No Hill
  • 7 FGAs for MP is probably about 4 too many
  • Crazy rainbow for Nash. Five point game
  • Just asked John Bloom, the winners of that $10k contest thing actually get the cash. Not sure if they get the briefcase too
  • Nice post up by MP on Terry
  • Hill was going to check in for MP but Gentry left Grant at the scorers' table for another stint
  • 94-90, Mavs. 6:13. Hill in for Robin. Suns going small
  • Great play by Trix on that weak side block
  • Dirk's been resting for a while now
  • Nash attacks Chandler off the switch. Bucket
  • Hill on Dirk but they switched MP on the Dirk/JET screen
  • Gentry wanted Carter to wrap up Dirk on that foul with both hands - not just reach in and slap
  • 96-92, Mavs. 4:45
  • Dirk with the nice post up on MP. He's just so good
  • Big rebound and put back for Tyson. 100-94, 3:34
  • MP misses a three...Suns not having a good night from deep...Kidd posts up Nash for two. 103-94. Ugh
  • Suns going small hasn't worked. They've been able to switch the screens but gave up size on the glass and Dirk posted up MP anyway.
  • Three from Frye, 103-97, 3 min. In theory there's time but I'm just not feeling it
  • Suns stay small. Mavs big.
  • Dirk springs free for a layup out of a time out. Nice play
  • Grant can't hit anything tonight. Suns have really needed one more guy to step up and make shots in this game.
  • Bavetta calls an offensive foul on Dirk. Probably a make up call
  • Nash two. 99-105, 1:40
  • JET for two
  • Vince for two
  • Trading buckets
  • Good stop by Suns and then Nash finds Hill at the rim as the defense is focused on him iso'd on Dirk. Still 103-107 w/ 45 sec
  • Tyson misses the layup but is just too tall for Frye to defend and he gets the tip back
  • 103-109, 19 sec
  • Suns 4-17 from three. They needed better to beat this Dallas team
  • Frye banks in a three with Chandler in his face. 106-109, 17 sec. Timeout, Mavs
  • 111-106, 14 sec


We found Robin Lopez! (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Will Dirk make every second-half shot?

Are the Suns waiting to play defense on him until the second half, when he's not ready for it?

Will Robin Lopez get double-digit rebounds?

Let's See!


Nash's shot creation is key to this game. (AP Photo/Francis Specker)







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