DALLAS – The Dallas Mavericks have a chance to even the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday afternoon at home. The Mavs are 32-14 on the season (including playoffs) at the American Airlines Center and hope to build off a 103-94 victory in Game 3 on Friday night. The Mavericks trail the series 2-1.
FINAL – MAVS 111, SUNS 101: It was the Phoenix Suns’ intention to brutalize Luka Doncic and his Dallas Mavericks into submission.
It happened on Sunday at the AAC – in reverse fashion.
Rather than Doncic ending up in trouble – foul or otherwise – the Mavs MVP totaled 26 points, seven rebounds and 11 assists, while his opposite number, the Suns’ all-time great Chris Paul, was forced to exit at the start of the fourth quarter with his sixth foul.
Along the way, the Phoenix floor leader managed to score just five points.
Dorian Finney-Smith was huge for Dallas with 26 points and eight rebounds.
Phoenix (led by Devin Booker’s 35) emptied its bench late in the game as Dallas continued to pour it on to record a second straight win and to tie the best-of-seven series 2-2.
Game 5 is Tuesday at Phoenix.
END OF THIRD: It’s Mavs 87, Suns 78, and the story of the third quarter is the five fouls on Chris Paul – to go along with his five points.
The foul trouble has limited Paul to 26 minutes through three quarters, and he’s not on the floor to start the fourth quarter here at the AAC.
UPDATE: Paul fouls out less than two minutes after entering in the fourth. He finishes with six fouls … and five points. And the AAC bid him a fond farewell …
Luka Doncic has 20 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. The Suns’ Devin Booker leads all scorers with 29.
HALFTIME: The Mavs are clinging to a 68-56 halftime lead in Game 4 in large part due to quality perimeter shooting. … and it helps going forward that Phoenix star Chris Paul goes to the locker room with four fouls.
The Suns continue to try to beat up Luka …
But the Mavs keep responding … Luka in an emotional-but-productive manner (he’s got a technical, plus 16 points, three rebounds and six assists) and other helpers, like Davis Bertans, who hit four straight treys and has 12 points.
Devin Booker has 19 halftime points for the Suns, who have a 2-1 series lead.
END OF FIRST: The Phoenix Suns have a clear game plan here at the AAC against the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4: Don’t just “hunt” Luka Doncic.
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Even with all of that, though, Dallas has taken a 37-25 lead to close the first quarter. Doncic has nine points, but just as key: Dallas is 8 of 13 from the arc.
Devin Booker has 13 for Phoenix, which is up 2-1 in the series.
Jae Crowder sustained a first-quarter injury for the Suns and limped off.
Aggressive defense from Mavs hounded Chris Paul and led to a number of mistakes by the Suns. Dallas held Phoenix to 44.7 percent shooting, marking the first game of the postseason (of nine outings) that Phoenix has been held to less than 50 percent from the floor.
Luka Doncic was outstanding for Dallas with 26 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists. He got big help as four other Mavs scored in double figures, led by Jalen Brunson’s game-high 28 points.
LUKA MAGIC: Averaging 35.3 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, Doncic is the 7th player in NBA history to average 35 points, 10 rebounds and five assists through the first three games of a series. The last player to do this being Russell Westbrook in the 2017 First Round.
RECORDS: DALLAS MAVERICKS (1-2) at PHOENIX SUNS (2-1)
WHEN: Sunday, May 8, 2022 • 2:30 p.m. CT
LOCATION: American Airlines Center (Dallas, TX)
TV/RADIO: ESPN, BSSW, 97.1 The Eagle (KEGL)
DALLAS INJURY REPORT: Tim Hardaway Jr. (left foot surgery) is out.
ODDS: The Mavs are currently 1.5-point underdogs to the Suns.
NEXT: The series shifts to Phoenix, tipping off at 9 p.m. CT on Tuesday.
VOTE: Doncic has been named as a finalist for the 2021-22 NBA Cares Community Assist Award. An NBA executive panel and fans will determine which player wins the award. If you’re a Mavs fan, or even just a Doncic fan in general, you can vote for him now.
QUOTABLE: Doncic on the difference on the defensive end in Game 3:
“Energy, man. I think that the energy was insane. This crowd gets it going which is amazing the whole game. But the energy and the execution were better. We trusted each other and that’s what we have to do every game.”