PHOENIX, May 28 (Ticker) -- The Dallas Mavericks have somehow done the impossible: They stopped the Phoenix Suns from running.

Bringing the NBA's most feared fast break to a standstill with a remarkable defensive effort, the Mavericks regained home-court advantage with a 95-88 victory over the Suns in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.

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Dirk Nowitzki had 28 points and 17 rebounds for the fourth-seeded Mavericks, who have stymied the second-seeded Suns in two straight games after giving away the opener at home. Dallas improved to 5-2 on the road in the postseason.

Mavericks coach Avery Johnson admitted that his team cannot afford to run with the Suns, who use a wide-open offense piloted by two-time MVP Steve Nash to press the tempo better than any team in the league.

To combat the run-and-gun Suns, Johnson has demanded patience on offense and hustle on defense. With their advantage in depth, the Mavericks have made a commitment to winning the transition game.

"We had a more balanced offense and didn't take bad shots," Johnson said. "When we take bad shots that hurts us on the other end. We have better balance and transition when we do what we do. If you can get 10 steps on a guys that is faster then you going down the other end of the court, you're at an advantage. We can't run as fast as those guys, so we better get a head start."

"We really controlled the tempo great," Nowitzki said. "Especially in the second half we got back in transition. We wanted to run when we had the chance but if not we wanted to slow it down, look for some shots. We only shot 41 percent but if you get a shot up every time and don't turn the ball over that keeps them from running. If they have to play defense for 24 seconds all the time they don't get the run-outs."

Second in the NBA in fast-break points during the season, Phoenix managed just four fast-break points Sunday - and zero in the second half. The offense grinded to a halt, totaling just 36 points after halftime and failing to reach 90 for the first in the postseason.

"I think they are getting back, doing a better job in getting back on transition," Nash said. "I don't know if fatigue is a factor but we are not running like we need to. It was a little frustrating to see us not give the extra effort tonight, especially in the second half, when we got caught too many times going 1-on-1."

"We got to run," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We didn't do it. We didn't have the neccassary enrgy to force the issue. I don't know if they are looking down the floor and seeing a couple of guys back and the rest of the guys stop running. If we don't run and spread the floor and hit them quick we are going to end up with 88 points."

Dallas got the offense it needed, especially from Nowitzki, Josh Howard and Jason Terry, who combined for 40 of their 69 points in the second half. Howard scored 16 of his 22 points and Terry 10 of his 19 after halftime.

The Mavericks also had the upper hand in effort and concentration. They held edges in rebounds (48-45), offensive rebounds (19-12) and steals (8-0) while committing just five turnovers and forcing 13.

"I don't think we get enough credit for being a team that hustles," Johnson said. "If you don't try to outhustle the Suns the way they play for long rebounds, short rebounds, you are going to be in trouble. You got to have quickness to get the long rebounds and that is just hustle."

Nowhere was that more evident that down the stretch. Trailing by as many as nine points in the fourth quarter, the Suns closed to 88-84 and had the ball when Tim Thomas made a lazy pass to Nash that was stolen by Howard, who went in for a layup with 2:10 left.

"I thought Steve was there," Thomas said. "I was already in motion ready to throw the ball to Steve, then all of a sudden Josh Howard was there. I didn't even see him coming."

After Shawn Marion missed a 3-pointer, the Mavericks held the ball for more than a minute, grabbing three offensive rebounds.

They may have received a break when Nowitzki's desperation 30-footer was ruled to have hit the rim and Terry sealed it with a jumper for a 92-84 bulge with 33 seconds to go.

"I think that Thomas turnover was big and then we missed a couple of shots but we were able to get two big offensive rebounds right after that," Nowitzki said. "When they play their small lineup, you gotta go in and get some offensvie rebounds. We got 19 today."

Howard pulled down 12 rebounds for Dallas, which never trailed in the fourth quarter and won despite shooting 41 percent (39-of-95).

Nash scored 21 points, Boris Diaw added 20 and Leandro Barbosa 17 for the Suns, who shot 43 percent (35-of-82). Marion had 10 points and 18 rebounds and Thomas added 14 and 10.

Nowitzki's first two 3-pointers of the series helped the Mavericks remain within 25-22 after one period. But a dedication to defense caused the offense to sputter.

A 3-pointer by Nash gave the Suns their largest lead at 50-39 with 3:05 left in the first half. A minute later, Howard was called for a flagrant foul on Thomas, who traded technicals with Terry before making two free throws.

Dallas closed the quarter with an 8-2 spurt, then opened the second half with a highly energetic 12-2 run fueled by Nowitzki and Howard, taking a 59-54 lead on a jumper by Terry.

"The turning point was at the end of the first half where we up by 11 and missed a couple of layups and we had a couple of bad plays," D'Antoni said. "We came in the half up by five instead of up by 11, 13 or 15. Then we came out a little flat. We didn't play real smart."

The Mavericks trailed for just 20 seconds thereafter, taking the lead for good at 78-72 with a 6-0 spurt early in the final period.