DALLAS - The Dallas Mavericks faced a huge challenge on Thursday night against the Phoenix Suns, the team with the best record in the NBA. The back-and-forth clash culminated in a 109-101 Suns victory as Dallas star Luka Doncic winced through neck pain.
The loss extended the Suns winning streak over the Mavs to nine games and halted Dallas' six-game winning streak at home.
On the second night of a back-to-back for the Mavs, Dallas battled against Devin Booker and Phoenix but 19 turnovers were a thorn in the Mavs side. Dallas showed no signs of tired legs in the first half, snagging a 53-45 halftime lead with much thanks to 19 points from Doncic.
The Mavs maintained their newfound gritty defensive identity, holding Phoenix to 45 percent from the field and 22 percent from three. However, Dallas could not stop the Suns' fourth quarter run that ultimately sealed the Phoenix victory.
Luka Magic included five points in the final two seconds of the first half; a turnaround jump shot, a steal and a then a quick three-pointer at the buzzer. There was seemingly nothing that Doncic could not do tonight; step-back threes, driving to the basket, excellent passes... And no one on the TNT broadcast called him overweight or out of shape.
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It was the first time the Suns have faced Doncic this season, after he missed the first two matchups (both losses) earlier this season due to injury. Doncic powered the Mavs with 28 points, eight assists and eight rebounds. The blemish on his stat line... eight turnovers.
The Suns remained within striking distance by capitalizing on Mavs turnovers, despite struggling from beyond-the-arc in the first half, going 2-of-19 from three. Phoenix was led by Booker's 28 points. While Miles Bridges, who has the second-best odds to win Most Improved Player, was a menace, impacting the game beyond his stat line (12 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals.)
Doncic took a hard fall in the third quarter and sat down on the bench grabbing at his right shoulder/neck area. He remained on the bench in a heat wrap until 7:25 left in the fourth quarter. Doncic winced in obvious pain on the court. In his absence, Jalen Brunson stepped up, totaling 19 points for the game.
Kristaps Porzingis found success around the basket vs. the Suns, with a few dunk gems. Porzingis finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. Off the bench, Dwight Powell provided a major energy boost with six points.
Sterling Brown (left foot soreness) was the only Dallas player to miss tonight’s game against Toronto. For the Suns, DeAndre Ayton (ankle) was out.
Next, Dallas continues its home stand. The Memphis Grizzlies, who have surged to third in the Western Conference, come to Dallas on Sunday for a 6:30 p.m. tipoff.