Mavs Hand Suns Critical Loss
Another must-win game. Another double-digit lead.
The proceeding were painfully familiar in Dallas, where Phoenix had jumped out to a 13-point, second-half lead before a flurry of Mavs threes and a cold fourth-quarter stretch from the Suns resulted in a 101-98 defeat.
Phoenix appeared on the verge of salvaging this one, staging a late 9-2 run to cut the deficit to one with less than a minute remaining.
Gerald Green missed a short jumper in transition and the Suns were forced to foul. Monta Ellis missed one of his two free throws, giving Phoenix a golden chance.
Instead Eric Bledsoe's driving layup was blocked by Brendan Wright. Again Ellis kept the Suns' hopes alive by missing 1-of-2, making it a three-point game.
Markieff Morris couldn't get free for a clean attempt, however, and his shot fell off at the buzzer.
Phoenix must now win both their remaining games (Memphis, Sacramento) and need the Grizzlies to lose one of their additional games left on the schedule (Lakers, Mavericks) in order to make the playoffs.
Dallas scored 29 points in the third quarter. They did over half of that damage in under five minutes.
Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki combined for five consecutive three-pointers, a barrage that cut the Suns' 13-point lead to one.
Once the Suns' own shooting dropped off, the Mavs' surge proved to be the difference.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Bledsoe's missed free throw late that would have tied it with 52 seconds remaining kept him from scoring 30 points for the third time in eight days. The fourth-year guard added six assists, four rebounds and four steals.
PHOTO OF THE NIGHT
STAT(S) OF THE NIGHT
27: the number of combined steals by both teams, which led to a total of 37 turnovers committed by two teams vying for a playoff spot