The Dallas Mavericks got their 12th victory on the road Thursday night in Mexico City, outlasting the Phoenix Suns 113-108. All five starters scored in double digits, led by 23 points and 12 assists from Deron Williams. Devin Booker caught fire, scoring 39 in defeat, including 6 of 7 from deep.
Both teams started the game on fire. Dallas hit 11 of their first 12 field goals while Marquese Chriss connected on three corner threes in under 90 seconds to help the Suns keep pace. After stretching their lead to 8 with 4:30 left in the quarter, the Mavericks went cold and allowed the Suns to inch back into the game. Dallas led Phoenix 32-29 after one period.
Leandro Barbosa turned back the clock to start the second quarter, scoring back to back buckets to retake the lead for Phoenix. Then Dirk Nowitzki re-entered the game after a short rest and proceeded to dunk the ball. In a shocking turn of events, the refs elected to continue playing the game despite the well known rule that if Dirk dunks, Dallas automatically wins.
Dirk poured in a few more buckets before turning the reigns over to Harrison Barnes who went on a short scoring binge of his own. However, despite the easy offensive buckets, the Mavericks proceeded to foul the Suns on defense and give up rebounds. The Suns actually took a 59-57 lead into the half on the strength of 19 free throw attempts (compared to 9 for Dallas) and grabbing 25 rebounds to the Maverick 15.
The Mavericks opened the second half on fire again and took advantage of sloppy play by the young Suns to burst out to a double digit lead just over three minutes into the period. A barrage of three pointers from Dirk, Deron Williams, and Wesley Matthews gave Dallas the lead which the Mavericks would hold onto throughout the period. The Suns didn’t let the lead get higher than 13 for Dallas, but they were unable to close the gap because of so many turnovers. The Mavericks outscored the Suns 31-17 in the period and took a 88-76 lead into the final quarter.
The Suns opened the quarter with a Devin Booker three and eventually got the lead down to 8 before Harrison Barnes and Dwight Powell got the lead back to 12 with 7:22 left in the game. The Suns got the lead back down to 8 repeatedly over the remaining minutes and each time the Mavericks answered back. Wesley Matthews in particular kept the heat off Dallas with big time three pointers. Devin Booker became a one man army in the final minutes, getting the Suns as close as 4 points before time simply ran out for a Suns comeback. The Mavericks leave Mexico City with a 113-108 victory over the Phoenix Suns.
Now, on to everything else.
Dirk dunked. Dirk dunked! DIRK DUNKED!!!!!
Hitting everything from outside the arc is fun
Over their last three victories against the Los Angeles Lakers, Washington Wizards, and Phoenix Suns, Dallas has shot lights out from beyond the three point arc, hitting 44 percent or more of their attempts. The starting line up shot an incredible 15 for 26 from beyond the arc.
It’s hard to lose game shooting this well and the Mavericks were able to survive trailing Phoenix in free throws attempted (19 to 29) and rebounds (32 to 47).
Without great dribble penetration, the Mavericks are relying on sound ball movement
67 percent of the Maverick field goal attempts were assisted against the Suns. Without anyone other than J.J. Barea being excellent at dribble penetration, the Mavericks are relying on their strong shooting, crisp cuts, excellent screens, and good ball movement to get buckets.
The best example happened in the third: Deron Williams drove from the right wing after using a Dirk screen. He kicked it out to the opposite corner to Harrison Barnes, who reversed it to Seth Curry, who then flipped it to Wes Matthews, who finally got it back to Dirk who nailed an open three pointer. The ball always moves faster than the defense can recover.
Harrison Barnes continues to be really good
I’m struggling to figure out what to write about Barnes at this point because he’s been very good. I love how he moves off the ball, particularly coming off those double baseline screens. I’m really amazed at his balance during these isolation post ups where he’s making a few power dribbles or a spin and shoot. It looks simple, but the strength and balance it takes against a variety of defenders makes his ability to adjust all the more impressive. I’m delighted at his vision. I still wish he’d get to the free throw line, but that doesn’t matter if he’s going to continue to shoot 55 percent from the field like he is in 2017. Keep doing you, Harrison.
Devin Booker is going to be a terror in the NBA one day
Did you know Devin Booker does not turn 21 until the start of the NEXT season? Did you know he scored 28 points in the fourth quarter and nearly caused me to have to rewrite this whole recap? Did you know he went 6 for 7 from deep despite having the best defender on the floor for Dallas on him all night? He still has a lot to learn (most of his team high 7 turnovers were really bad), but he has the makings of a future superstar.
We’ve seen it these past few weeks: young guys can be a lot of fun. The Mavericks have been absolutely cooked by a some of the youngest up and coming stars in the league. At least this time, the more veteran Mavericks were able to hold on to a tight win.