In the first two games of their Western Conference second-round series against the Phoenix Suns, the Dallas Mavericks were all about Luka Doncic and no one else.
Coming into Game 3, Doncic was averaging 40 points per contest in this series, but Dallas needed others to come to the party.
Doncic got his in Game 3 with 26 points, 13 rebounds, and nine assists, but Jalen Brunson recorded a game-high 28 points; Reggie Bullock added 15 points, Dorian Finney-Smith chipped in with 14 points, and Maxi Kleber collected 14 points off the bench as the Mavs defeated the Suns 103-94 at American Airlines Center.
With the win, Dallas snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Suns. The Mavericks still trail in the series 2-1, with an opportunity to even the series on Sunday.
“I thought it was a great team win,” Kidd said. “(Jalen Brunson), Spencer [Dinwiddie], Maxi [Kleber], Luka [Dončić], Reggie [Bullock], (Dorian Finney-Smith) – everyone joined the party, they helped out on both ends. And then Luka was great defensively; he participated, too. It puts us in a different position when that happens.”
Doncic had 24 points in the first half in Game 2 but scored only 11 in the second half, and Dallas allowed Phoenix to score 40 points in the fourth on 84% shooting from the field. In Game 3, Doncic felt he needed to be better on both ends of the court.
“I wouldn’t say motivation, but I knew I had to do better,” Doncic said. “I knew I could do better; I think that I have made a big jump on defense this year, and the second half was more by me, and I knew I had to get back to my team and play better defense.”
Dallas held Phoenix to 45% shooting from the field, marking the first game of the postseason (of nine outings) that Phoenix has been held to less than 50% from the field. In addition, the Mavs forced 17 turnovers, which led to 22 points.
On his 37th birthday, they forced seven Chris Paul turnovers.
“Happy birthday (Chris Paul),” Kidd said. “I think when you look at it, we were active. Our hands were active; we got deflections that led to steals. We came out aggressive. There was carryover from Game 2 in those first three quarters, and we played 48 minutes tonight. It’s a great win, but now this game is over. It’s a quick turnaround here for Sunday.”
Paul felt the turnovers were the difference in the game.
“If I don’t turn the ball over like that, I feel like it’s a different game, so give them a lot of credit,” Paul said.” They came out and did what they were supposed to do. We’ll be back on Sunday.”
Suns head coach Monty Williams did not like how the team’s offense flowed in Game 3.
“I’m sure there was a bit more pressure on the ball or hands in lanes to get the flex and that kind of thing,” he said. “I didn’t feel like we had a rhythm tonight on offense, to be straight with you all. You saw flashes, but we just didn’t have the same kind of offensive connection that we had in Phoenix. Some of that is to be expected when you are playing against a team, and you are up two games, you know they are going to come out and hit you in the mouth. I thought we could have settled down a little bit more on offense, especially when we have the ball jumping around the gym the way we did from a turnover perspective.”
This was a great effort from the Mavs on both ends, especially on defense. Playing big-time defense and getting big efforts from Doncic and others is why Dallas was successful this season. They have to use that same formula to win Game 4 and this series.
-All five of the starters for Phoenix scored in double figures. Jae Crowder led the way with 19 points (5-8 3FG), seven rebounds, and five assists.