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.
|Final - 12.6.2012||1||2||3||4||Total|
The Phoenix Suns will give you your money back if you don't enjoy this game tonight. All you need to do is fill out something online and ask. That's it. Boom. Free NBA game, if that's what you're angling for.
Me, I'd rather enjoy a fun game and go home happy. So yeah, let's do this Suns! Gimme a fun game!
As I looked through the stats to preview Suns vs. Mavericks, I was shocked by the similarities between these teams. Dallas' big advantage is that they do have a star, but he's been sidelined all season. Without Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks and Suns are pretty much evenly matched.
Given evenly matched teams, the advantage goes to the home team. And lucky for Suns fans, for the first time in almost two weeks they are the home team.
Below average teams are terrible on the road. The Phoenix Suns are 5-3 at home, but only 2-9 on the road. Of the Suns five home wins, four of them were come-from-behind variety.
Dallas is 6-3 at home, but only 2-7 on the road. They just lost by 19 last night to the Clippers, a game that was never in doubt after the first quarter.
Both teams play really fast, likely a product of their lack of overall talent. Dallas is 4th in the league in pace at 94.2, while the Suns are 8th. Expect that ball to move quickly up and down the court.
Both teams are good when they score 100 points - Dallas is 6-1 while the Suns are 5-3. But neither team wants the other to score 100 points, but their opponents almost always do it anyway - Dallas is 3-9 in those situations, while the Suns are 4-9.
Neither team is very good at offense, but the Suns are slightly better. Dallas is 18th in offensive rating, while the Suns are 14th.
However, not surprisingly, the Mavericks are a little better on the defensive end - ranking 19th overall in defensive rating, while the Suns are a lowly 29th there.
Dallas can defend, but they can't pull down the rebound.
The three Suns who have been starters all season long - Michael Beasley, Marcin Gortat and Goran Dragic - have the team's worst +/- on the season (-7 and -5 and -3 per game, respectively). By far. The question is whether all three guys are really that bad, or whether one guy is bringing the others down. Buy contrast, the team's second unit is a net positive.
Just when you think that's bad, the Mavericks are led in net +/- by none other than Derek Fisher, who has only played a grand total of two games after getting signed last week off the street. The rest of the Mavericks +/- resembles the Suns' - their starters being the worst on the team, with Collison, Mayo and Marion at the bottom of their list.
When a shot clangs off the rim, adventure begins. Neither team is good at rebounding, but the Suns are much better than the Mavericks.
When the Suns miss: The Phoenix Suns are 15th in the NBA in offensive rebound % (the percent of the time that the Suns pull down their own misses, as compared to the rest of the league), while the Mavericks are a lowly 28th in defensive rebound %.
When Dallas misses: The Phoenix Suns are not bad on the defensive glass, ranking 20th in the NBA in defensive rebound %, while the Mavericks are once again woeful at 29th in offensive rebound %.
The Phoenix Suns have not beaten a team that is currently over .500. Dallas has only done it once (Knicks - 114-111). If you look at it in terms of playing teams that were above .500 at the time they played, the Suns are 3-8 in that situation and Dallas is 4-6.
But let's not waste any more time on that stat, since neither team is over .500 in this game.
Dallas' top offseason signing was O.J. Mayo, while Phoenix's was Goran Dragic. Mayo scores more, while Dragic passes more. Dragic has more "win shares" on the season (2.0 vs. 1.7), both leading their respective teams.
Both are down a bit after hot starts. Dragic is only averaging 15 and 6 lately, while Mayo's 3-point shooting has cooled off from a blistering start.
Will Vince Carter go off on us, thanks to Scott Howard's fan club? Carter is the Mavericks best offensive weapon after O.J. Mayo, to the tune of 13.1 PPG (20 points/36 min) and 42% on three-pointers.
On the Suns side, Shannon Brown is doing okay this year but was more stat-filling and impactful off the bench.
Neither teams boasts a great third option, even if you consider Carter/Brown as valid second options. Neither team has a second or third leading scorer getting more than 13 points per game.
"We need help at point guard," coach Rick Carlisle said in The Dallas Morning News after the team's loss in Chicago last week. "We feel [Fisher] can help us. It's not a cure-all to all of our team challenges, but his expertise and experience will help."
This, of course, was largely due to the suspect play of offseason pickup Darren Collison, who was benched last week after playing inconsistently on offense and poorly on defense throughout November. Replacing him with younger, less experienced players on the roster like Dominique Jones or Rodrigue Beaubois clearly wasn't the answer -- and it only took two straight losses for Dallas to come to that conclusion.
Elton Brand basically out of the rotation in favor of Troy "statue" Murphy, while fellow amnesty claim Luis Scola lost his to an inconsistent second-year player. Both began the season in the starting lineup, and now both come off the bench - an unfamiliar role. Brand has an injury history, so he's used to missing time. But he'd nearly always been a starter, just like Scola.
At center, you've got two similarly profiled guys - Chris Kaman vs.
Marvin Marcin Gortat. Even their hair is the same this season. They both bring similarities on the court as well. They can rebound, block a few shots and act big around the basket. And they both produce about the same numbers, when it's all said and done.
Former Sun Shawn Marion faces off against uninspiring Michael Beasley. Marion is now 3,000 years old and showing it, while Michael Beasley only moves like he's that old. Both are their team's worst +/- player on the season.
Unlike other matchups, Suns fans probably wouldn't mind if this one goes Dallas' way.
And it's all about Satisfaction, right?
See the Future: Dallas at Phoenix, Game 19 - Mavs Moneyball
Right now, at this very moment, Dallas is horrible. Truly horrible. And they aren't going to magically improve over night. I don't really see how they improve at all. We're a quarter of the way through the season and they've not corrected any of the problems they've displayed over the past few weeks.