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Mavs-Suns Game 2 Donuts: Paul, Phoenix Sprint to Finish, 129-109

Dallas led at halftime, but cold shooting and a hot Chris Paul down the stretch led to an 0-2 hole

The Dallas Mavericks dug out of an early hole and actually led after 24 minutes. Luka Doncic was dominating and the more physical vibe felt like they were in good shape. But Dallas made only seven 3-pointers the second half as the Suns sprinted to a commanding 2-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.

DONUT 1: STINKO DE MAYO - The Mavs led 60-58 at halftime, but then Phoenix's Devin Booker scored eight quick points to start the third quarter and they never saw the lead again. Dallas was outscored 71-49 in the second half and head back to DFW on May 5 not in any sort of a festive mood.

DONUT 2: OH AND TWO - NBA teams that fall behind 0-2 come back to win the series 7.6 percent of the time. Soooo you're saying there's a chance? The Mavs have turned the trick, rallying from 0-2 to beat the Rockets in 2005 by winning Game 7 at home by 40 points.

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Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks, Mikal Bridges, Phoenix Suns
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DONUT 3: NEIN TO NINE - With the way the Suns are shooting and generally playing, seems like it's the Mavs who should get the nine-point lead to start games. Just, ya know, to make the fight fair. Instead, Dallas has fallen behind 9-0 to start both games in this series. That script has to flip. Or else.

DONUT 4: TRENDING TROUBLE - Make it 11 consecutive losses to the Suns for Dallas, who hasn't beaten Phoenix since 2019. Winning four of five seems unlikely, but the Mavs felt equally as confident over the Miami Heat with a 2-0 lead in the 2006 Finals and we know how that turned out.

DONUT 5: FRIENDLY FIRE - A couple of former Mavs are making life difficult for the current Mavs. Both Jae Crowder (drafted 34th overall by Dallas in 2012) and JaVale McGee (started 34 games for the Mavs in 2016) are impacting this series. Crowder was aggressive offensively in Game 2 and continued to be an irritant on defense. He unnecessarily tugged on Doncic's shoulder on an end-of-the-first-quarter heave, then later picked up a technical foul for a subtle shove followed by trash-talking in Luka's face. Despite being saddled with foul trouble Wednesday night, McGee in the series has already stripped Doncic and Jalen Brunson in the open court and made an athletic block of a Spencer Dinwiddie layup. The days of McGee simply being the lead fodder on Shaqtin'-a-Fool are long over.

DONUT 6: LOUSY LUKA - Seems absurd to criticize a guy who scored 35 points, but Doncic wasn't good in the second half. He scored only 11 points, got distracted by physical confrontations with Crowder and verbal exchanges with fans and - oh by the way - committed another seven turnovers. By now we know that Luka's mouth is always running and his antennae is constantly up, but if Dallas is going to make this a competitive series Superman has to be even stronger.

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DONUT 7: THE DEFENSE RESTS - The Mavs hung their hats on being one of the NBA's best defensive teams in the regular season. And against Utah in crucial Game 5 they held the Jazz to 77 points. But the Suns have scorched them for 121 and 129 points. Dallas just doesn't have the firepower to win shootouts against the Suns.

DONUT 8: LATE TO THE LEAD - The Suns led wire-to-wire in Game 1 and for a while it appeared they may never trail in this series. Dallas played from behind for the first 64 minutes until Davis Bertans' corner 3-pointer put them ahead for the first time, 41-38.

DONUT 9: ADVANTAGE, WILLIAMS - Luka has scored 80 points in this series, but the Mavs never really threatened to win either game. In other words, Suns coach Monty Williams' game plan is working to perfection. He's daring Doncic to beat Phoenix by himself. Again, his main supporting cast - Brunson and Dinwiddie - weren't close to being good enough. They were a combined six of 22 for only 20 points, after making nine of 24 for 21 points in Game 1. After averaging 28 points per game in the first round, Brunson has scored only 22 combined in two games against Phoenix on nine-of-28 shooting and four turnovers. Asked before Game 2 if he was content allowing Doncic to score 40+ points, Williams responded "I'm okay with winning, sure."

DONUT 10: FORMULA FOR FAILURE - The Mavs made 17 3-pointers, which will win them some games. Problem is the Suns made 13 of their own. If Dallas' margin from beyond the arc is only +4, it's going to be a long series in a short time.

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DONUT 11: RARE LOSING STREAK - Mavs were 22-9 - including a Game 2 win over the Jazz after dropping Game 1 - in games following a loss this season. Make it 22-10 and a two-game losing streak entering Friday's Game 3 at American Airlines Center.

DONUT 12: MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU - Future Hall-of-Fame point guard Chris Paul was having a relatively quiet series until he slammed the door on Dallas with an emphatic, vintage fourth-quarter flurry. Dallas trailed only 89-86 when Paul took over, creating mismatches on pick-and-rolls and making a 3-pointer, a layup, a floater in the lane, a trademark pull-up jumper and a three-point play with Doncic guarding him. By the time his 14-point barrage was complete Phoenix's lead ballooned to 108-93.