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Game 41: Mavs at Suns Subscribe via RSS

Mavericks vs. Suns

Rookie Shane Larkin scores a career-high 18 points as the Mavericks edge the Phoenix Suns 110-107.

PHOENIX — With their late-game collapse and 129-127 defeat in Los Angeles Wednesday night behind them, the Dallas Mavericks returned to U.S. Airways Center with plenty on the line.

After squandering a 17-point lead with less than five minutes remaining and falling to the Clippers, the Mavericks quickly had to turn their attention to the avenging a 123-108 loss in Phoenix on Dec. 21. Meanwhile, as they patiently await the pending season debut of veteran guard Devin Harris, the Mavs took another blow on the injury front, losing rookie floor general Gal Mekel indefinitely after the 25-year-old point guard underwent arthroscopic surgery Friday to address a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee.

But, with neither Mekel or Harris available and starting point guard Jose Calderon hampered by an injury, the Mavs would get a lift from rookie first-rounder Shane Larkin in the backcourt Friday night. And with the first-year guard providing a spark, the Mavericks (24-17) scratched and clawed their way to a 110-107 victory.

“Phoenix likes to get up and down, and I’ve always been accustom to the up-and-down style,” Larkin said while summing up the night. “It was just a great game, 110-107, and just to be able to know I contributed and was a part of the win in a big way really just helps your confidence. Hopefully I can keep it going.”

One game after returning to the lineup with 14 points following a four-outing hiatus with a right shoulder contusion and bruised upper ribs, versatile forward Shawn Marion got the Mavs on the board first en route to an 8-2 start in the opening quarter.  The duo of Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki then combined to score 19 points in the period, lifting the Mavericks to a lead of as many as 11 before taking a 36-30 advantage into the second stanza.

After the Suns (22-17) charged back early in the second quarter while playing without point guard Eric Bledsoe (right knee surgery), Ellis again went on the attack to keep the home team at bay. But the Suns would stage another comeback, forcing a timeout by Mavs coach Rick Carlisle with his team up just two, 44-42, and 6:16 left in the half. The Mavs then went into the visitors’ locker room ahead by the same margin, 58-56, at the halftime intermission.

Led by Ellis’ 16 first-half points on 6-of-12 shooting, the Mavericks outshot the Suns through two quarters, 53.5 percent to 47.1 percent, as the two teams battled to a 24-all rebounding stalemate. The Mavs also overcame the Suns’ 40-26 advantage in the paint through the first 24 minutes of play.

With Calderon forced to sit early in the third period due to his third foul, the Mavericks immediately turned to Larkin in place of Mekel. The young point guard would rise to the occasion, aggressively getting to the rim on the offensive end and becoming a menace on defense.

Marion took it from there, looking for his own shot against his former team. Suns point guard Goran Dragic then tried to match the Mavs’ level of aggression while keeping his team in the game, but he couldn’t prevent Dallas from seizing a 12-point lead. The Mavericks looked to close the Suns out in the fourth after that, entering the final 12 minutes with an 84-75 margin under their belt.

But the lead wouldn’t be safe as back-to-back 3-pointers by Markieff and Marcus Morris quickly forced a Dallas timeout with 9:43 remaining as the Mavs’ lead dwindled to 86-84. Larkin then rejoined the game and connected on a timely 3-pointer of his own, stepping in as Calderon sat with a right knee contusion.

“I mean, Devin’s not back, Gal had surgery and Jose said he’s hurting. So I was like, ‘I’ve just got to go play now. I mean, I’m not coming out, so just got out there and do you.’ Sometimes you think as a rookie you don’t want to mess up, you want to play smart and you don’t want to do things that Coach [Carlisle] isn’t comfortable with you doing yet. Tonight, it was just go play,” Larkin explained.

Ellis and Nowitzki tried to close the Suns out from there, getting help from Larkin as he found center Samuel Dalembert inside for a three-point play with 3:02 left to assume a 102-92 lead. Larkin’s score with 2:42 left to play then kept the Suns at a safe distance, continuing the young guard’s career night before connecting on two free throws to make it a 108-101 score with 1:19 still on the clock.

“Just for them to have the confidence in me to call those plays down the stretch was big for my confidence,” Larkin added.

But, after Larkin’s clutch free throws with 11.1 seconds left, Dragic’s driving score was proceeded by sixth man Vince Carter’s turnover, sending the ball back over to the Suns down three with 6.4 seconds remaining to tie the game. However, P.J. Tucker’s attempt from the corner would rim out on the subsequent possession. And after back-to-back misses by Markieff Morris inside, the Mavs left the Suns’ home floor with a hard-fought win.

“You know, they kept coming all game and they kept hitting back in the fourth,” Nowitzki said with great respect for the Suns. ”They cut it all the way to two, but we made the right plays every time they came back. I remember Shane made a big three when they cut it to two the first time, and down the stretch we just made the right plays. It still was a little too close for my taste there. We turned it over, giving them a shot at the three, but that’s what we do.”

Finishing with 24 points on 10-of-20 shooting, Ellis led the Mavs while Nowitzki pitched in 21 points. Larkin, meanwhile, finished with a season-high 18 points off the bench, hitting six of his eight shot attempts to go along with five assists. Marion was the only other Mav in double figures with 16 points and seven rebounds.

“This is why we drafted him,” Carlisle said with high praise for Larkin’s effort. “We felt like he could have this kind of impact. Jose banged a knee in the first half and it wasn’t quite right in the second half, and so we totally changed our rotation and Shane responded in a big way. He made plays down the stretch, made free throws and hit guys. He was probably our leading scorer in the last four or five minutes, which is huge on the road. It’s hard to win on the road in the NBA.”

“[Larkin] was awesome,” Nowitzki added in regard to his young teammate’s night. “We needed everything out of him tonight. I think it was his kind of game, an up-and-down game, and he was phenomenal. He made big shots, he knocked down big free throws and we needed him, obviously with Jose going down. The little guy was phenomenal. He competed, he picked up fullcourt and pushed the pace for us when we needed, so he was phenomenal.”

Dragic led five Suns in double figures with 28 points on 12-of-20 shooting, adding seven assists and five rebounds. But the Mavs finished the night outshooting the Suns, 53 percent to 45.2 percent, overcoming a 47-44 rebounding disadvantage and the 17 points they allowed off 16 turnovers.

The Suns also ended the game with a 60-42 edge in the paint, but finished connecting on just seven of their 22 shots from behind the arc.

“Tonight was a different night,” Marion concluded. “We tried not to let anything take us out of our game and distract us. We stayed on point and did what we needed to do to get this win.

“They are resilient and they play really well in this house. We were able to get one. We needed this win and we came in here and got it.”

Note: The Mavs return to American Airlines Center on Saturday while completing a back-to-back against the Portland Trail Blazers. Dallas leads the season series 1-0 after a 108-106 win in Portland on Dec. 7. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.

Dallas Mavericks
PLAYER MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
Shawn Marion, F 35 6-9 3-5 1-2 3 4 7 2 0 0 0 1 11 16
Dirk Nowitzki, F 34 9-16 2-6 1-2 0 5 5 2 1 1 1 0 5 21
Samuel Dalembert, C 20 3-3 0-0 3-3 0 7 7 1 0 0 1 5 3 9
Monta Ellis, G 38 10-20 0-1 4-6 0 6 6 7 2 2 3 4 1 24
Jose Calderon, G 19 2-8 0-4 0-0 0 0 0 4 1 0 1 3 -9 4
DeJuan Blair 10 1-2 0-0 0-0 1 3 4 0 0 0 0 1 9 2
Vince Carter 22 3-9 2-5 0-0 0 7 7 1 0 0 5 2 -8 8
Jae Crowder 15 0-2 0-0 0-0 1 1 2 0 2 0 0 2 3 0
Shane Larkin 26 6-8 2-3 4-5 0 1 1 5 2 0 2 1 9 18
Brandan Wright 17 4-6 0-0 0-1 2 3 5 0 0 1 3 2 -9 8
Wayne Ellington 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Devin Harris 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Bernard James 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ricky Ledo 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Gal Mekel 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TOTALS FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF   PTS
    44-83 9-24 13-19 7 37 44 22 8 4 16 21   110
    53.0% 37.5% 68.4%                    
Phoenix Suns
PLAYER MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
PJ Tucker, F 35 5-8 1-1 0-0 1 8 9 2 0 0 1 4 3 11
Channing Frye, F 29 2-6 0-2 2-2 1 6 7 0 0 0 0 2 -5 6
Miles Plumlee, C 20 3-7 0-0 0-1 0 2 2 0 0 0 2 0 -11 6
Gerald Green, G 32 4-13 1-3 3-3 1 1 2 2 2 1 3 2 -8 12
Goran Dragic, G 37 12-20 0-4 4-6 1 4 5 7 3 0 1 1 -5 28
Marcus Morris 21 4-11 3-6 2-2 4 3 7 3 2 0 0 3 1 13
Markieff Morris 32 8-15 2-5 5-5 6 6 12 2 0 0 4 4 14 23
Archie Goodwin 7 1-4 0-1 0-0 3 0 3 0 0 0 1 0 -2 2
Ish Smith 20 3-8 0-0 0-2 0 0 0 3 0 0 1 0 4 6
Alex Len 1 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 -6 0
Leandro Barbosa 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Eric Bledsoe 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Dionte Christmas 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Viacheslav Kravtsov 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Emeka Okafor 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TOTALS FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF   PTS
    42-93 7-22 16-21 17 30 47 19 7 1 13 17   107
    45.2% 31.8% 76.2%                    

PHOENIX — With his team still stunned by the events of Wednesday night’s heartbreaking loss in Los Angeles, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle utilized Friday’s morning walkthrough to refocus his players on the task at hand.

Turning their attention from Wednesday’s 129-127 loss to the Clippers after leading by 17 with less than five minutes remaining, the Mavericks (23-17) will try to bounce back against a Phoenix Suns team that is just ahead in the Western Conference playoff picture. And while trying to spit out the sourness of Wednesday’s loss, the Mavs will also attempt to avenge a 123-108 defeat in Phoenix back on Dec. 21 to draw even the season series.

“Today’s a new day and we’ve got a new opponent,” Carlisle said. “This is a team that we’re right there neck and neck with, and the importance of the game goes without saying. We’ve just got to get ready to play. Simple as that.”

Including the collapse against the Clippers, the Mavericks have now dropped four games this season when leading by at least 17. They’ll try to learn from those losses before taking the court against the Suns (22-16) Friday night, however, reaching the midway mark of the 82-game schedule in the process.

“We’ll see if we learn from them,” 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki said. “It keeps happening, so we’ve just got to be more solid at the end of games if we have the lead. Keep executing our game plans and just play a little smarter.

“Our goal was the playoffs and we’re still right there almost at the halfway point, but those losses we did have are some of the toughest I’ve ever had in my 16-year career it feels like. Some of those heartbreakers have been tough, so hopefully it brings us closer together and gets us better for the second half of the season.”

Note: The Mavericks will now conclude their two-game road trip on Phoenix, taking on the Suns Friday night in the first outing of a back-to-back. The Suns lead the season series 1-0 after handing the Mavs a 123-108 road loss back on Dec. 21. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 8 p.m. CT.

The Mavs return to American Airlines Center on Saturday while completing a back-to-back against the Portland Trail Blazers. Dallas leads the season series 1-0 after a 108-106 win in Portland on Dec. 7. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.

PHOENIX — After suffering a heartbreaking loss to begin their road-heavy stretch in the schedule, the Dallas Mavericks will try to get back on track Friday night in Phoenix.

Facing the Suns (22-16) for the second time and attempting to avenge a 123-108 road loss back on Dec. 21, the Mavericks (23-17) will quickly try to forget about Wednesday’s 129-127 defeat in Los Angeles to the Clippers. However, after leading by 17 with just under five minutes to play and allowing the Clippers to finish the game on a 23-4 run, the Mavs will first have to make the proper corrections before squaring off with the Suns for a second time.

“We might be the only team to find a way to lose this one,” 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki said after the Mavs fell for the fourth time this season when leading by at least 17 in a game.

“We’ve just got to find a way to win it,” he added. “Get a couple stops here or there, and I’ve got to make one or two shots. There’s no way we should lose this game.”

Nowitzki led six Mavericks in double figures with 27 points in the loss, but he also missed his final seven shot attempts. Meanwhile, center Samuel Dalembert scored a season-high 20 points and starting 2-guard Monta Ellis dished out a Maverick-high 13 assists.

The visiting Dalllas team also outshot the Clippers on the night, 52.6 percent to 50.6 percent, in addition to a 60-40 margin in the paint and 47-38 rebounding advantage in the loss. But it was the defensive end of the floor that gave the Mavs their biggest reason for concern after allowing the Clippers to finish the final 2:51 on an 11-0 run.

And after getting four-time All-Star Shawn Marion back following a four-game absence with a right shoulder contusion and bruised upper ribs, the Mavericks will look to improve their defensive play while trying to get even with the Suns in the first game of a back-to-back that concludes Saturday at home against Portland.

“When you score 127 points, it should be a walk-away win. But that wasn’t the case,” Marion concluded after Wednesday’s loss. “We had it in our hands to win. We couldn’t get stops at the end and we couldn’t make shots the last two or three minutes.”

“We made some really bad mental mistakes, which gave them a chance, and they took advantage of it,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle added. “It’s as hard of a lesson as you’re going to have in this league, but you’ve got to play the whole 48 minutes from start to finish.”

Note: The Mavericks will now conclude their two-game road trip on Phoenix, taking on the Suns Friday night in the first outing of a back-to-back. The Suns lead the season series 1-0 after handing the Mavs a 123-108 road loss back on Dec. 21. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 8 p.m. CT.

The Mavs return to American Airlines Center on Saturday while completing a back-to-back against the Portland Trail Blazers. Dallas leads the season series 1-0 after a 108-106 win in Portland on Dec. 7. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.