For one night, the Suns and Mavericks played a game of inches. It wasn’t that the Mavs dominated the Suns in any one aspect of the game, and the problem in an 98-89 loss for Phoenix wasn’t any single...

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Derp!  I mean...Dirk!

The Phoenix Suns fell to the Dallas Mavericks tonight, 98-89 , in a game that was won on the offensive glass. The Mavericks have not been a good rebounding team thus far in the season, but they played like one tonight as they out muscled and out hustled the Suns all game long.

The Suns kept it close initially with the efficient play of Marcin Gortat on both sides on the ball. Channing Frye also got off to a nice start hitting his first two shots, one of which was a three pointer. However, once Nash and most of the other starters left the court the mavericks soon began to pull away. Ronnie Price and Markieff Morris both committed two quick fouls a piece and sent Dallas to the line where they opened up the lead even more.

Then the second half on if you dare.

In the second half the Suns briefly saw a glimmer of hope off the heels of some very nice play from Grant Hill who scored three quick buckets and grabbed a steal in the first three minutes. However, just as the Suns were starting to get some momentum to swing their way Nash commited a turnover that led to a fast break bucket, then Frye committed a turnover throwing the ball in-bounds, and then fouled Dirk Novitzki for the and one.

That series of mishaps that led to a quick seven points instantly put a stop to the Suns' run and things just went down from there.

Dirk Nowitzki was his normal awesome self all game long (20pts, 7ast, 6rbs), and in the fourth quarter the Mavs pulled away by as many as 20 points before the Suns decided to make one last run to cut the lead back down to 10; mostly due to the play of Nash and Gortat. Alas, it wasn't enough as the Mavs continued to hold serve from that point and closed it out the rest of the way.

The story of the game was rebounding...more specifically a lack thereof. Giving up 20 offensive rebounds just isn't getting it done. Gortat finished with 22pts and 10rbs so he certainly did his job, but most of the other players seemed slow to box out or just lacked the energy to compete for the 50-50 balls which the Mavericks ended up with. I think the Suns missed the energy and hustle of Markieff Morris who couldn't stay on the floor due to early foul trouble. He has to improve in that area of his game...The Suns need him.

The Suns need to play with more energy...We've seen flashes this season but they simply haven't shown they can do this on a consistent basis. This was a winnable game that the Suns let slip away...too bad.

Game Notes:

First Half

Gortat playing very effective on both offense and defense…Not sure if Gentry is leaving him out longer because of his play or because of Robin’s injured Foot.

Shannon Brown…Ugh

Lopez not looking quite like his usual self. Maybe the foot injury is bothering him, or maybe he’s just having a bad day

Ronnie Price plays good defense but simply does not set up the offense well whatsoever.

If Morris has a down side it’s silly fouls…It’s to be expected for a rookie, but we really need him out there.

Hakim playing “better” defense as a SF, and showcasing his new skills as a three-point shooter from the corner. I think we’ve found his ideal fit on our team

Frye seems to have his stroke tonight but he’s barely getting the opportunity to shoot the ball

Offensive rebounds for the Mavs is the difference in the first half…Dallas with 13 so far

10 Turnovers in the first half already is way too many…Luckily the Mavs have only scored on three of them

Frye quietly having a nice first half with 7 points of 3-4 shooting and 5 rebounds. He needs more opportunities to score tonight since his shot seems to be falling.

49-41 first half. Stats: Suns shooting 38.6% from the field 25% from three. Gortat only player in double figures with 10, and also the leading rebounder with 6.

Second Half

Grant Hill on FIRE to start the second half…Six quick points and a steal in the first three minutes

Frye with a terrible turnover on out of bounds pass right after a turnover from Nash that led to a fast break. Frye then commits a worse foul on Dirk for an and-one. All of this happened just as the Suns were gaining momentum. Dallas now back firmly in control

Terry doing what he does best…hitting impossible clutch three’s to dig that dagger in our chest a little deeper.

Steve hit a NASHTY three of his own to answer!

Dudley now 3-10 from the field in the 3rd quarter…Not good

Telfair getting his opportunity, probably because Price was so ineffective in the first half.

Telfair then proceeds to dribble aimlessly at the top of the key and then clanks one off the rim without ever passing the ball…Help!

Another 3pt dagger from Terry to close out the third quarter. Dallas up 77-66 at the end of the third

Yawn…another dagger from JET

Mavs briefly went up by 20 points but the Suns started fighting back to bring the score within 10

Mavs wake back up and keep the score just out of reach to close it out. Final 98-89

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49-41 at the end of the first half. Suns shooting under 40% from the field, but the real difference is allowing 13 offensive rebounds for the Mavs.

We're still very much in this game...Let's tighten it up and get the win!

Dallas Mavericks 98, Phoenix Suns 89 PHOENIX — Count the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks as two teams that the NBA lockout and the loss of a real training camp has hampered to start the...

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Keep it Nashty!

After a very satisfying win over the Golden State Warriors at home on Monday, the Phoenix Suns will attempt to keep their momentum going as they visit the Dallas Mavericks on the road tonight at 6:30pm MST.

As it stands now, The Suns (2-3) and the Mavericks (2-4) have very similar records...but sometimes stats can be deceiving.

The Suns have losses against the New Orleans Hornets, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Only the Thunder are currently considered to be a legit contender. Their best win so far was Monday's game against the Golden State Warriors who are currently 2-3 as well.

On the other hand, the Mavericks' four losses have come against the Miami Heat, Denver Nuggets, OKC Thunder, and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Of all of those teams they lost to, only the Timberwolves could be considered a non-contending opponent at this point (although many consider them at least a borderline playoff team), and their most recent win against the Thunder also shows the Mavericks still have the firepower to bring down even the most talented of teams.

But all hope is not lost...

If there is one thing we know for sure about the Suns, it's that as Steve Nash goes, so goes the team. So it should be no surprise that Nash's best overall game so far this season was also the team's best game, and the only game they have been able to crack the century mark offensively in thus far as well. In that last game against the Warriors, Nash scored 21 points and dished out 9 assists while committing only two turnovers...and not surprisingly, the starting unit finally outplayed the bench. Coincidence? I think not.

If the Suns are going to be able to pull out an upset win in Dallas tonight, this is exactly the type of performance the Suns are going to need once more from their aging two-time MVP. In addition, there are other areas of strength that the Suns must capitalize on and use to their advantage if they are going to get a win in Dallas.

Read on after the jump for a breakdown of what to expect...

After a slow start to the season against some fairly tough opponents, the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks have seemingly begun to pick up steam, especially with their most recent win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night. Despite their record the Dallas Mavericks are still chock full of talent and should still be considered one of the odds on favorites to make it back to the NBA Finals. While Dallas lost their solidifying force in the post, Tyson Chandler, in free agency to the Knicks, and their spark-plug off the bench, J.J. Barea, in free agency to the Timberwolves, they kept their core of talent in Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, and Shawn Marion, and have also acquired some other talented additions such as Lamar Odom and Vince Carter (don't laugh).

So how do the Suns match-up with the Mavs?

For one, Steve Nash and Jason Kidd are both experienced point guards who can shoot the ball and find the open shooter. Nash has an edge offensively while Kidd has the edge defensively. This one's a wash.

Next we have Jared Dudley vs. Jason Terry at the two guard. Delonte West is technically the starter but Terry gets the bulk of the minutes and West also helps back up Kidd at the point. Dudley is a very good player all around but Terry brings instant offense, speed, and clutch shooting. Advantage Mavs.

At small forward we have Grant Hill vs. Shawn Marion. Both of these players are strong defensively and decent rebounders for their position. On offense, Grant is a better shooter while Marion has more athleticism, but both can score. This one's a wash

The power forward position matches Channing Frye up against Dirk Nowitzki. This one's not even close..Neither are great defenders but Dirk is one of the best scorers in the league while Channing is currently shooting 23% from the field and struggling to find his shot. Strong advantage Mavs

Marcin Gortat and Brendan Haywood will compete at the starting center position. Gortat has been impeded by a fractured right thumb, but he's still averaging 9.2 points, 5.8 rbs, and 1.6 blks in approximately 22 min a game. Haywood on the other hand is averaging 5.2 pts, 5.7 rbs, and 1.0 blks in approximately 19 minutes a game. Gortat is simply a better player than Haywood both offensively and defensively, even with a broken thumb. Advantage Suns.

As for the bench, we will see Hakim Warrick, Markieff Morris, Robin Lopez, Shannon Brown, and Ronnie Price vs. Lamar Odom, Vince Carter, Delonte West, and Ian Mahinmi. Believe it or not, Vince Carter has actualy been playing very well for Dallas thus far (we'll see how he holds up as the season progresses though). Still, when the Suns' bench is playing well they can be very effective. Slight advantage Suns.

So final count we have things pretty even overall. However, the advantage of Dirk Novitzki over Channing Frye is a substantial one, and if the Suns want to be able to win this game I believe they will need some help from some key players and positions.

As I mentioned above, if Steve Nash is on then this team can still compete with anyone. The Suns will need MVSteve to show up with guns a blazing tonight if they are going to have a chance.

Secondly, the Suns need to fully utilize their biggest advantage which I believe is at the center position. Gortat and Lopez are a much better tandem than Haywood and Mahinmi...and if the Suns can find a way to score early and often in the paint while also grabbing more rebounds and playing solid defensively, they could dominate in the paint offensively; and force Dallas into low percentage shots while not allowing second-chance opportunities.

And lastly, they will need some additional scoring off the bench. Hakim Warrick and Markeiff Morris have been very productive thus far, and we will need their best along with some additional production hopefully from Shannon Brown or Ronnie Price tonight to match the likes of Terry, Odom, and Carter. If the Suns can get quality play from Nash, Gortat/Lopez, and their bench, I believe the Suns have a good chance to pull out an upset in Dallas tonight.

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