Mavs’ Doncic on winning Game 7: ‘I can’t get this smile off my face’

“Game 7 typically goes to the best player, and I believe we have that in this series. It’s going to be an exciting clash of styles.”

–Spencer Dinwiddie, Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks went into Phoenix against the Suns, who had the best record in basketball this season, looking to win Game 7 of their Western Conference second-round series Sunday night. Dallas had not won on the road in this series and have not won in Phoenix since 2019, but as Dinwiddie said, Dallas had the best player in the series, and that was the difference.

The best player in this series, Luka Doncic, scored 27 of his game-high 35 points in the first half to go along with 10 rebounds; Spencer Dinwiddie added 21 of his 30 points in the first half. Jalen Brunson chipped in with 24 points as the Mavs defeated the Suns 123-90 at Footprint Center to advance to the Western Conference Finals to battle the Golden State Warriors. 

The trio of Doncic, Dinwiddie, and Brunson combined for 89 points.

Game 1 of the Western Conference finals is Wednesday night at Chase Center.

Doncic and the Suns had the same amount of points(27) at the half. Dallas led by 30 at the break(57-27) and had their largest lead of 46 points in the third. Dallas, who was down 2-0 in this series, defeated the Suns by an average of 30 points in Games 6 and 7. 

According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Mavericks’ 33-point win over the Suns was the second-largest win in a series-clinching game versus the best team in the NBA in league history.

Dinwiddie was right about Doncic being the best player in this series as he scored more points than Devin Booker, grabbed more rebounds than Deandre Ayton, dished out more assists than Chris Paul, and had more steals than Mikal Bridges.

Doncic could not stop smiling after beating the Suns in Game 7.

“I can’t get this smile off my face,” he said. “I’m just really happy. Honestly, I think we deserved this.”

Dallas played one of its better games of the season, while the Suns played their worst. Booker(11) and Paul(10) combined for only 21 points, including three points at halftime. In addition, Phoenix shot only 24% in the first half, including 21% from deep. 

Phoenix couldn’t make shots; they couldn’t stop the Mavericks, and in the end, they wasted a 64-win season.

“That was good old fashion a** whipping,” Booker said. 

Suns head coach Monty Williams added: “I know they didn’t want to play that way. We basically played the worst game of the season tonight. That group has a lot of character and integrity, and I know how bad they wanted it.”

The Suns will look back at this series and this season and be very disappointed. At 37, Paul, who is only getting older, looked worn down in this series. In addition, they’ll have to figure out what they will do with Deandre Ayton, who can be a restricted free agent and played only 17 minutes Sunday night. The main goal for Phoenix was to return to the Finals and win a championship. Obviously, that’s not happening. 

Regarding the Mavs, they’re playing good defense and getting stellar play from Doncic. They have a legitimate shot at beating the Warriors as they won the season series 3-1. The Mavs will compete, and we’ll see if they can go back to the NBA Finals for the time since 2011.

 

 

 

 

Game 6 is a must-win for the Suns

The Dallas Mavericks had all the momentum heading into Game 5 against the Suns, as they won Games 3 and 4 in Dallas to tie their Western Conference second-round series at 2.

In Game 5, Dallas got off to a solid start and took a 26-23 lead after one quarter.

However, Dallas was outscored by 33 points the rest of the way, including 33-14 in the third quarter, as the Suns defeated the Mavs 110-80 at Footprint Center to take a 3-2 series lead.

With the win, the Suns can close out the Mavs in Game 6 Thursday night in Dallas.

In that third quarter, Phoenix created 12 turnovers(seven steals), which led to 18 points, shot 54% from the field, and Devin Booker scored 12 of his team-high 28 points. After three quarters, Phoenix led 82-60 and had their largest lead of 30 points in the fourth.

Phoenix did not play well in Dallas, and they have not lost more than two straight games this season, and with all the drama with Chris Paul and his family in Game 4, you knew the Suns would come back strong in Game 5. 

In their first-round series, the Suns were in a similar situation against the Pelicans. After losing Game 4 to the Pelicans, the Suns came back and handled their business in Game 5; Phoenix took care of business in New Orleans against the Pelicans in Game 6, and they must do the same against the Mavericks.

Even though Game 7 would be back in Phoenix, where they were 32-9 in the regular season, the Suns don’t want to be in a position where they have beat a great player like Luka Doncic, who can put up big numbers and steal a game.

Plus, as stated numerous times, to avoid injuries, you don’t want to play extra games, so the Suns have to end this series in Game 6. However, the fourth game is always the hardest to get, so expect Dallas to come out strong.

Mavs’ Doncic in Game 3 win: ‘I knew I had to do better’

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.

Notes:

-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.

Doncic on Paul: ‘He’s tough, man; he’s a hell of a player’

The Dallas Mavericks have not had an answer for the Phoenix Suns in over two years, and they continued to have no answers for Phoenix on Wednesday night.

After leading 89-86 with over 11 minutes left in the fourth, the Suns went on a 33-9 run to take their largest lead at 122-95 with just under four minutes to go to take Game 2 129-109 at Footprint Center.

Phoenix leads the series 2-0 as the scene shifts to Dallas for Game 3 Friday night.

The Mavs, who have not defeated the Suns since 2019, have lost 11 consecutive games to Phoenix.

Phoenix shot 65% from the field, a new Suns postseason franchise record in a single playoff game. The Suns scored 40 points and shot 84% from the floor in the fourth, and Chris Paul had 14 of his 28 points in the final period.

“Like I always say, just playing the game,” Paul said about the fourth quarter. “Book (Devin Booker) started that third quarter, got us going. You know, I read the game. And other guys on the team made big shots whenever they made a run, just to get us going and get us warmed up into the game. Just feeding off of that.”

Booker, who led the Suns with 30 points, added on Paul: “I remember growing up – I don’t want to take it back to when I was five years old again – but me and my dad watched him play, and he was like, ‘do you see how he makes sure everybody is involved, and then he picks his times when he’s going to take over the game?’, and I’ve just always admired the way he does that. He’s just in control at all times. He’s two, three steps ahead of whatever the other team is doing. And just the leadership, that can never go unnoticed when you’re talking about this man. Just the way he holds people accountable, the will to win. The list keeps going on and on; that’s why he has the nickname (Point God) that he does.”

Luka Doncic led the Mavs with 35 points, and just like everybody else, he was impressed with Paul.

“He’s tough, man; he’s a hell of a player,” Doncic said about Paul. “He’s been in this league a lot of years; he knows what this is about, so he’s very tough. But like I said, we have to do a better job with him.”

Like Game 1, Mavs head coach Jason Kidd says Doncic needs help from others if Dallas wants to compete in this series. 

“He had a great game, but no one else showed,” Kidd said. “We’ve got to get other guys shooting the ball better. We can’t win with just him out there scoring 30 a night. Not at this time of the year, and we’re playing the best team in the league, and so we’ve got to get other guys going.”

The Suns look like the team that won 64 games in the regular season right now, and that team was tough to beat in the regular season, and that team will be tough to beat for the Mavericks. The series is not over, but the Mavs have to find a way to turn things around in Dallas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mavs’ Doncic on loss to Suns: ‘I think our defense lost us the game tonight’

Luka Doncic did his job in the Dallas Mavericks’ Game 1 loss to the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals Monday night. Doncic had 45 points(one short of playoff career-high), 12 rebounds, and eight assists.

However, that was overshadowed by Deandre Ayton’s(12/20 FG) 25 points and eight rebounds and Devin Booker’s 23 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists as the Suns had six players in double figures, including all five starters. Phoenix would lead from start to finish and defeat the Mavericks 121-114 at Footprint Center to take a 1-0 series lead.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Phoenix.

The Suns, who led by as many as 21 points in this one, have defeated the Mavs 10 straight times(regular season and playoffs combined).

Mavs head coach Jason Kidd liked what Doncic did, but according to him, Doncic needed more help.

“He got whatever he wanted,” Kidd said after the loss. “When you look at the shots in the paint, behind the arc, midrange, and then also he got his teammates some great looks that we normally have made, I thought he played great. We didn’t play him the whole game. Again, in the fourth quarter, those guys started to get a rhythm and played harder, but I thought he played great.”

After three quarters, the Suns scored 96 points. In addition, they finished the game shooting 51% from the field. Doncic felt the team’s defense lost Game 1.

“I think our defense lost us the game tonight,” Doncic said. “I think our start on the defensive end was terrible, and we’ve got to change that. I know we can play way better defense, and I know we will.”

The Suns came out with a lot of energy in this one, and they used their size to punish the Mavs on the glass as they outrebounded Dallas 51-36. Against the Jazz, Dallas was able to take advantage of Rudy Gobert because he could not hurt them on the offensive end. However, Ayton can and did hurt the Mavs, which Booker discussed postgame.

“He’s a beast down there, and he proves it night-in and night-out,” Booker said of Ayton. “That’s what teams try to go to verses us, just have five guards out there and switch it one through five, and that’s his time to punish them.”

The Mavs clearly have had a hard time defeating the Suns as they haven’t beaten Phoenix since 2019. The Suns have the their number, but there’s hope. Dallas lost Game 1 to the Jazz last round and won four of the next five games in that series.

However, Dallas must be better defensively and get a little more from other players not named Luka Doncic. 

Notes:

-Shooting 51% in the win, Phoenix has now shot 50+ FG% in all seven of their playoff games this postseason. The seven consecutive games shooting 50+ FG% is a franchise postseason record.

-Chris Paul totaled 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting tonight, to go along with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal and a block. With this third assist tonight, Paul passed Tony Parker for fifth on the NBA’s all-time playoff assists list.

-Maxi Kleber added 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting tonight in 25 minutes off the bench for Dallas. Kleber knocked down a game-high five three- pointers on eight attempts in the game.

 

 

Paul on Bridges: ‘He doesn’t miss games, he guards the best players every night’

Coming into Game 5 of their first-round series against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Phoenix Suns won two games because of two 19-point fourth quarters from Chris Paul. CP3 got the job done for the Suns in Game 5 as he had 22 points and 11 assists. However, Mikal Bridges was the star of the game.

Bridges, who finished second for the Defensive Player of the Year Award, tied a playoff career-high with 31 points on 12/17 shooting from the field, including 4/4 from downtown, five rebounds, two steals, and four blocks in 47 minutes of action as the Suns defeated the Pelicans 112-97 at Footprint Center to take a 3-2 series lead.

Game 6 is Thursday night in New Orleans.

Bridges did it on both ends of the court. According to StatMuse, the players he guarded were 3/17 from the floor with seven points.

“He doesn’t miss games, he guards the best players every night, and then he has 31,” Paul said.

Bridges, who has never missed an NBA game in four seasons, was ready to keep on playing after the win.

“I’m ready to play tomorrow. I’m teed up, man,” Bridges said. “I’m energized; my teammates keep me going. You got me itching my knee right now because I’m talking about it. I need to calm down, I need to breathe, but I’m just ready, man.”

Deandre Ayton, who had 19 points and nine rebounds, added on Bridges: “The man takes care of his body, and he approaches the game the same way every day; he doesn’t change.”

Without Devin Booker, it’s all hands on deck for the Suns, and Bridges got the job done. The Suns have to end this series in Game 6; Phoenix does not want to be in a position where they have to play a Game 7. The Suns are the better team, and as the better team, they have to put the Pelicans away Thursday night.

Suns will have to play ‘extra games’ to defeat New Orleans

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker has sustained a mild right hamstring strain, the team announced Wednesday.

According to the team, an MRI revealed the injury, and there is no timetable for his return.

According to ESPN Adrian Wojnarowski, Booker is expected to miss Games 3 and 4 but could return later in this series.

The injury occurred in the third quarter of Phoenix’s 125-114 loss to the Pelicans in Game 2 of their first-round series. Booker scored all 31 points, including seven threes, in the first half. 

New Orleans led Phoenix 77-74 with 4:35 left in the third when Booker exited with the injury. The Pelicans would outscore the Suns 48-40 the rest of the way and would win 125-114.

The series is tied at 1, and Game 2 is Friday night in New Orleans.

Booker missed seven games with a strained left hamstring injury during the regular season. Phoenix was 8-6 without Booker this season.

Hamstrings can be tricky, but hopefully, this is not an injury that will keep Booker out for an extended period. Phoenix’s only goal is a championship. They went to the NBA Finals last season and have the best record in basketball this season, so anything short of a title would be a disappointment. 

Here’s also the issue, you can’t play “extra games” in the playoffs, and now the Suns will be playing at least an extra game and possibly more in this series. 

It’s next man up for the Suns, so guys like Landry Shamet and Cam Johnson have to step up. New Orleans has the momentum, but Phoenix is still the better team, even without Booker.

However, winning this series has just gotten a little complicated for the Suns, but just like they have all season long, expect the Suns to play well without Booker.

Notes:

Chris Paul had his second consecutive double-double in this series as he finished with 17 points and 14 assists Tuesday night. 

 

Suns’ Ayton on Paul’s performance in Game 1 vs. Pelicans: ‘Man, that is the CP3 Show’

Great players do great things in the playoffs, and Chris Paul is a great player, and Sunday night in Game 1 of Phoenix’s first-round series against the Pelicans, that greatness was on full display.

Phoenix led 53-34 at the break, but the Pelicans outscored the Suns 37-25 in the third quarter and had some momentum going into the fourth, but then, the “CP3 Show” commenced.

The 12-time All-Star scored 19 of his team-high 30 points in the fourth quarter to go along with seven rebounds, 10 assists, and three steals as the Suns defeated the Pelicans 110-99 at Footprint Center to take a 1-0 series lead.

Game 2 is Tuesday night in Phoenix.

At age 37, Paul became the oldest player to record 30 points and 10 assists in a playoff game. 

“Man, that is the CP3 Show,” Deandre Ayton said postgame. ‘We got a little taste of it.’

“Classic Chris,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said. 

With Phoenix leading 80-73, Paul scored or assisted 19 straight points for the Suns to take complete control of the game. 

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Paul became the fifth player with ten career playoff games of 30 points and 10 assists, joining LeBron James (22), Michael Jordan (15), Jerry West (14), and Oscar Robertson (12)

“It’s just reading the game,” Paul said. “We watch games all day, every day. We got to watch all the games yesterday. We watched the games today. We know in the playoffs, teams aren’t going to lay down.”

Williams had more praise for his point guard.

“He’s not only a great point guard, but he’s a great basketball player,” Williams said.

After making the Finals last season, the goal for the Suns is an NBA title. Barring anything unforeseen, the Pelicans can’t defeat Phoenix. So, in reality, to avoid injuries, the Suns have to sweep this series to play as few games as possible as they look to win an NBA title.

Suns’ Paul: ‘I’m grateful to be here with this group’

On Tuesday night, the Phoenix Suns killed two birds with one stone in their 121-110 win over the Lakers. Phoenix eliminated the Lakers from playoff contention, and more importantly, the Suns picked up their 63rd win of the season, setting the franchise record for wins in a season.

The previous record of 62 wins occurred during the 1992-93 and 2004-05 seasons. 

Suns head coach Monty Williams, who became the head man in 2019, helped spearhead the turnaround. Phoenix went from losing 63 games in the 2018-19 season to winning 63 games and possibly more this season.

“It started with the young guys we had that first year, the bubble, last year, and then the individual stuff that we’ve seen guys achieve along the way, and then tonight is unbelievably special for so many people,” Williams said post-game. 

“Not just the organization, but the people in the city that have basically birthed the Suns. Everywhere I go, people talk about the Suns are their baby, and to have us playing this way, achieving this goal tonight is huge for the valley. It’s hard to put it into words, but we’re all pretty grateful, and we talk about celebrating everything, and there’s just so many people that have a huge part in this, from the players, who are the main cogs in it all, but in particular, ownership, James (Jones), but also people like Jay Gaspar and Denise Romero, who just have grown up in this organization and it’s special to see them excited about what we’re doing.”

Maybe the biggest reason for the turnaround in Phoenix was the acquisition of Chris Paul. None of this happens without CP3. Paul also became the first player in NBA history to be a part of four teams that set franchise records for wins, but for the 12-time All-Star, who helped lead the Phoenix to the NBA Finals last season, it’s all about winning a title.

“It’s all good and well,” Paul said. “It would be nice to put a championship with all that. That’s the goal; that’s what we’re working towards. I don’t take that lightly, though, because it’s a lot of work; it’s a lot of hard work that goes into year-in and year-out playing and competing. At the end of the day, you want to have a chance. You at least want to have a chance, and I’m grateful to be here with this group.”

Deandre Ayton was there for the 19-63 season, and he, like everybody else on the Suns, is happy to get to 63 wins.

“Me and Mikal (Bridges) were looking at each other four years ago, bro; we were at the bottom pit of the barrel,” Ayton said. “We almost thought we weren’t a part of the league. For a minute, I thought we were playing people to play us my rookie year, the way that we were losing. We here, man, and seeing all the fans and the community just so happy, just so supportive, all that helps.”

Winning 63 games is all well and good, but the Suns have to cap it off with a championship!

Suns’ Booker on life without Chris Paul: ‘We got to hold it down without him’

Before the All-Star break, things were rolling for the Phoenix Suns. The Suns(48-10) had the best record in basketball, which is the team’s best start through 58 games. In addition, they are 18-1 in the last 19 games. 

However, their season could get a little bumpy in the next few weeks. According to reports, All-Star Chris Paul will miss at least 6-8 with a right thumb avulsion, and he will be re-evaluated during that time.

The 36-year-old Paul, who played two minutes in the All-Star game, injured his thumb last Wednesday in the team’s win over the Rockets.

There are seven weeks left in the season, so there is a possibility he could miss some of the playoffs.

After the All-Star game, Phoenix’s other All-Star, Devin Booker, reacted to the news.

“I would rather have him in,” Booker said. “We have to figure it out. Everybody has to give a little bit more. I look at the beauty in it. He gets to rest his legs. He gets to get ready for a long postseason that we’re trying to make happen. So we got to hold it down without him. We got to hold the fort down. I’m sure Coach is already coming up with some game plans and schemes to make it work without him out there…

“It’s a part of the game that you always hate to see. But Coach always says, control the controllable. That’s part of the game, and that happens sometimes. I think fortunate enough it’s nothing as detrimental as season-ending, and he will be back when the games matter.”

With 24 games left in the season, Phoenix is 6.5 games up on the second-seeded Warriors in the Western Conference. Barring a collapse, they will be the number one seed in the West.

Without Paul, Cam Payne will probably get the start as he’s expected to return after missing 13 games with a wrist injury. In addition, reserve guard Landry Shamet is expected to be back after nine games with an ankle injury.

Obviously, the Suns need Paul to win an NBA title, but at this point, the Suns have to hold down the fort for the rest of the regular season and maybe parts of the playoffs until Paul returns.