Feb. 1, 2013


US Airways Center
Goran Dragic
19 PTS, 9 AST, 8 REB
O.J. Mayo
20 PTS, 5 REB, 4 AST
Shannon Brown was the spark off the bench, with 20 of the Suns' 25 bench points.

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Mavs Pull Away From Suns Late

By: Stefan Swiat, Suns.com

The Mavs have had the Suns' number recently. And they continued to dial it on Friday.

Despite leading by as many as 10 with 4:45 left in the third period, the Suns weren’t able to close out the contest, dropping a 109-99 home decision to the Mavs. Dallas has been the Suns’ nemesis in the past couple of years, earning 11 wins in 12 tries over them.

“I thought we came out and scored at will,” Suns Head Coach Lindsey Hunter said. “It’s funny how that works.

“When you score easily, you tend to think that’s the way you win. We kind of got caught up in easy baskets and veered ourselves off from the things that we want to be.”

Phoenix jumped out of the gate early, pouring in 31 first-quarter points on 50-percent shooting, seizing control of the momentum. The Suns used a well-balanced attack to take control of the game, putting five players in double figures, led by shooting guard Shannon Brown’s 20 points off the bench.

Up 10 in the third and the Mavs seemingly on the ropes, the Suns were unable to put the game out of reach against the Mavs’ reserves, allowing Dallas to move to within a point heading into the fourth period.

In the fourth period, the Mavs used an 18-10 run to pull away, punctuated by a Shawn Marion bucket with 2:29 left in the game to put Dallas up nine. Overall, the Mavs outscored the Suns by 11 in the final quarter.

“I think our intensity was not the same as last game,” Suns point guard Goran Dragic said. “We were not engaged on defense, and you know, if you get some stops then there's less pressure on offense. We struggled offensively and they scored a few easy baskets, so we didn’t defend. ”

After surrendering the battle of the paint in the first two contests, the Suns outscored the Mavs by eight inside. But the difference would come from long distance, where the Mavs connected on four more three-pointers than the Suns on the night.

Dragic tallied 19 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, while Jared Dudley shot 3-of-6 from downtown to pour in 17 points of his own. Power forward Luis Scola posted 18 points and eight rebounds and Marcin Gortat added 16 points, seven rebounds and two blocks.

The Suns visit Golden State on Saturday.

Defensive Clamps
When Hunter took over as head coach six game ago, he said his emphasis was going to be defense. Thus far, his team had been hearing him at US Airways Center.

Coming into Friday’s contest, the Suns held a visiting Clippers team that is used to producing 101 points on 47-percent shooting a game to 88 points and 40 percent-shooting. In the next home game, against a Lakers team that normally scores 102 points and shoots 46 percent from the floor, L.A. was held to just 86 points on 42-percent shooting.

The trend continued Friday against the Mavs until the fourth period, when the host Suns slipped up and surrendered 35 points in the final period.

Re-enter the Dragon
Suns point guard Goran Dragic unleashed a splendid all-around game Friday, totaling 19 points, eight rebounds and nine assists, while shooting 7-of-14 from the floor. It was the sixth-straight game Dragic has recorded eight or more assists, which matches his season-best streak, as well as the longest-active streak of its kind in the NBA.

He is currently tied with the Clippers’ Chris Paul with the longest streak of that kind in the NBA. Dragic believes the reason for his sparkling play has simply been his improved health.

“I started the season well and I had some problems with my ankle,” Dragic said. “I wasn’t feeling like myself, but now I’m getting back to myself and trying to play hard.”

Super Bowl Predictions
Like the rest of the country, the Suns don’t know who will win this Sunday’s Super Bowl. The vote amongst players polled was 5-5, with two players abstaining.

However, Coach Hunter is adamant about his choice. A devout 49ers fan, he is taking San Fran.

Any questions or comments for Stefan Swiat? Click here to send him your comments by e-mail.