For the third time this season, the Dallas Mavericks held a fourth-quarter lead against the Phoenix Suns but wound up losing in the end. The Mavericks fell 109-101 to the Suns Thursday night at the American Airlines Center.
Dallas finishes the season-series 0-3 against Phoenix, with no more scheduled games between the two teams.
In the teams’ two previous meetings, the Mavericks were outscored 70-45 in both fourth quarters, just a few days apart in November. On Thursday, Dallas held an eight-point lead to start the fourth quarter before Phoenix outscored them 35-19 to close the game.
“These dudes always have our number late in games,” Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson said. “We got to be better.”
Luka Doncic scored 28 points while adding eight rebounds and eight assists, despite having to play through pain. Late in the third quarter, Doncic fell hard to the court and went to the bench holding the right side of his back and neck.
Dallas Director of Player Health and Performance Casey Smith wrapped a heat pack around Doncic’s right shoulder with a bandage. After just a short rest, Doncic returned to the court and played more than seven minutes of the fourth quarter,
“If he’s hurt, he’s still going to compete,” head coach Jason Kidd said of Doncic. “That’s just who he is. He’s a gladiator. He’s going to fight.”
The Mavericks could not turn Doncic’s gutsy performance into what would have been the team’s 11th win in its last 12 games. Brunson was the team’s second-leading scorer with 19 points, while Kristaps Porzingis completed a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. However, only seven of Porzingis’ points came after halftime.
Phoenix (35-9) showed why it has the NBA’s best record with a tough win against a hot Dallas (26-20) on the road. The Suns’ win snaps a Mavericks six-game home winning streak.
Phoenix’s duo of All-star guards, Devin Booker and Chris Paul, were too much for the Mavericks to handle as they were playing their third game in four days. Booker finished with 28 points, while Paul added 20 points and 11 assists.
Paul provided the final dagger for the Suns to secure the win. After coach Kidd called a timeout with 1:49 remaining and Phoenix up 104-99, the Mavericks went through two scoreless possessions. Then, Paul connected on a long-range three-point attempt to essentially end the game.
“He just makes that team so much better with his experience and his IQ,” Porzingis said of Paul.
The Suns ended the game on a 10-2 run. They forced the Mavericks into a season-high-tying 19 turnovers, which they converted into 31 points.
Attention now turns to Doncic’s health. He has already missed 15 games this season, including both earlier meetings against Phoenix.
In May 2021, Doncic suffered a strained neck injury and did not miss any time. But postgame, he said this time felt “a little bit worse” because the pain was closer to his spine.
No indication has been given whether Doncic will be in action for the Mavericks’ next game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday.