After not scoring a single point in Tuesday’s 30-point loss to the Phoenix Suns, Reggie Bullock knew there was one conversation he undoubtedly had to have.
With his mom.
Whatever Bullock’s mom told him, it worked. With her encouragement, Bullock poured in 19 points and collected two steals Thursday and the Dallas Mavericks tied their best-of-seven series against the Suns at 3-3 with a convincing 113-86 victory at American Airlines Center.
“I just knew I had to bounce back,” Bullock said. “I talked to my mom and she gave me a lot of energy. Just family giving me a lot of energy just to be able to continue shooting the ball.
“Obviously, I didn’t get a lot of shots the last game, but we’re a team. Some nights you’re going to get some shots, some nights you’re not. I just was trying to be aggressive with whatever looks that I had.”
Bullock was 0-of-5 from the field in Game 5, and coach Jason Kidd said “it just happens” that players will sometimes have an off-night due to any number set of circumstances.
“It’s hard to score when you turn the ball over,” Kidd said. “We turned the ball over (18 times in Game 5). Guys didn’t get looks in that last game.
“When you turn the ball over that many times against a really good team, guys don’t get shots. We took care of the ball (Thursday with only seven turnovers). Reggie had some great looks early.”
In addition to converting 7-of-15 shots from the field – including 5-of-11 from three-point land – Bullock was a terror on the defensive end of the court. After primarily guarding point guard Chris Paul in the first five games of this series, Bullock discovered Thursday that he was going to be guarding shooting guard Devin Booker in Game 6.
The results: Booker struggled to finish with just 19 points on 6-of-17 shooting, and seven of his points came at the free throw line. He also was 0-of-4 from three-point land, marking the first time in this year’s playoffs that he failed to make a three-pointer.
“We’ve asked (Bullock) to guard everybody, and he’s been up for the challenge,” Kidd said. “I started him on Booker just to see what would happen there, just to make it tough.
“Booker is an incredible player. But Reg, I thought, did us a good job.”
It was a difficult challenge for Bullock considering Booker scored 28 or more points in three of the first five games in this series.
“I knew we were going to make some adjustments,” Bullock said. “It’s just a game plan that coach put together.
“I found out today that I was going to be on (Booker), but it’s just another assignment for me. He’s a good player, he’s a tough player. I’m just trying to make things tough on him.”
From point guard Luka Doncic’s perspective, even if Bullock’s shot isn’t falling, he knows how to find other ways to make some meaningful contributions.
“Sometimes the shots just don’t go in, but he’s a great shooter and a great defender,” Doncic said. “He helped us a lot tonight.”
Guard Jalen Brunson knows the key to getting Bullock into a shooting rhythm.
“He got more shots, plain and simple,” Brunson said. “He’s a sniper.
“The way he plays on both sides of the ball is great. It’s something that we expect, so I’m proud of him for tonight.”
In return, Bullock is proud that he and his teammates were able to stave off elimination and extend this series to a seventh game while sending the sellout crowd of 20,777 home in a festive mood.
“We’ve got some dogs over here,” Bullock said. “This team, we’ve been grinding it out all season. I’m pretty sure nobody’s got us winning Game 7, but we keep our head down (and) keep working.
“We’re believing in our abilities that we put on both ends of the floor. We believe in the coaching staff. The fans give us a lot of energy at home, and we just came out and pulled it out tonight.”
And an assist from his mom, Bullock insists, also was pivotal in his Game 6 performance.
“My mom was a fighter and a winner her whole life,” he said. “She’s not going to back down from nothing, and I get that from my mom when it comes to basketball.
“It’s just a lot of family support. You’ve got to always have that. The loved ones are the ones that really matter, and they just give me a lot of energy and I just go out and perform for them.”
HARRISON FINISHED IN THE TOP 10: Nico Harrison, the Mavs’ general manager and president of basketball operations, finished 10th in the voting for the NBA’s Executive of the Year award, which was announced Thursday.
Zach Kleiman — the general manager and executive vice-president of basketball operations for the Memphis Grizzlies — won the award.
Hired last June 28, Harrison brought in Reggie Bullock, Spencer Dinwiddie, Davis Bertans, Frank Ntilikina, Sterling Brown, Marquese Chriss and Theo Pinson this season. His moves helped the Mavs get out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
“Nico will continue to improve,” coach Jason Kidd said. “This is his first year. Unfortunately, he came in 10th. It’s good internally.
“At least he wasn’t at the bottom of the pack, so that’s a good thing.”
BRIEFLY: Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, Arizona Cardinals/Allen High School quarterback Kyler Murray, Indiana Pacers/Euless Trinity High School center Myles Turner and Cleveland Browns/Arlington Martin High School defensive end Myles Garrett were among the folks who attended Thursday’s game. . .At the 4:10 mark of the third quarter, the Mavs scored their 80th point. They only had 80 points in the entire Game 5. . .In acknowledging the job turned in by the fans Thursday, guard Jalen Brunson said: “Thanks for the fans for really just making it tough on them.”. .Luka Doncic was elbowed in the face by Suns center Deandre Ayton with 4:01 remaining in the third quarter. But after reviewing the play, Ayton was charged with a technical foul and for taunting. “It’s good that I have a big head and a hard head,” Doncic said. “That’s why I said Bobie (Boban Marjanovic) is the best trash talker (on the team). He said, ‘I hope Ayton’s elbow is good because your head is so big.’ “
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