Suns News

Newsroom Notes: Suns Prove Point Against Mavs

Gortat led the Suns in boards Thursday.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)
By Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
Posted: March 8, 2012

The Suns have had their problems with the Mavs recently. But on Thursday, that all changed.

Having lost eight-straight games and 11 of its last 12 to Dallas, the Suns righted their ship against the defending NBA Champions by securing a 96-94 home victory on Thursday.

“This game was really tough but we really wanted to win this game because it was the fourth time that we played Dallas this year and we’ve been losing to this team all the time,” Suns center Marcin Gortat said. “So this time we said we were going to play 48 minutes and all the way to the end. We really wanted to beat that team.”

Trailing the majority of the night, the Suns rallied in the third quarter, using a 30-13 run from the 6:06 mark in the third period to the 7:33 mark in the fourth period to pull ahead by 10. The Suns withstood the champs’ best blows down the stretch before holding on for a two-point win on Noche Latina.

In their last six third quarters at home, the Suns have outscored their opponents by an 11-point margin.

“We got the pace of the game up and we came up with stops,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said of his club’s third-quarter run. “The tempo was up where we wanted it.”

The Suns have now won four straight at home, their longest streak at home since April of 2010, thanks to 18 points from Jared Dudley and 16 points and 12 rebounds from Gortat. Steve Nash played his usual outstanding floor game, posting 11 points and 11 assists.

Earning the challenge of defending Dirk Nowitzki, Suns swingman Grant Hill held Nowitzki to 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting. The Suns co-captain nearly cancelled him out on the offense end, adding 15 points of his own.

The Suns improved to 4-1 since the All-Star break, won for the sixth time in their last eight games and moved to two games above .500 at home for the first time this season. And for some reason unbeknownst to Gentry and other Suns players, the Suns have won seven of their last nine games on the second half of back-to-backs.

However, Dudley has a theory.

“On the second half of a back-to-back there’s an urgency,” he said. “The coaches emphasize energy and focus, more so than when there are two or three days off.”

After a day off, the Suns host the Grizzlies on Saturday is Polish Heritage Night at US Airways Center.

Plus/Minus

The crack research of the Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro pointed out that the Suns starting five currently has the best plus/minus in the league. That means that when Steve Nash, Jared Dudley, Grant Hill, Channing Frye and Marcin Gortat are on the floor together, the Suns are proportionally more successful than any other five-player combination in the league.

When Hill is out, the other four Suns account for the second-best four-player combination in the league. If you remove Frye, as well, Nash, Gortat and Dudley make up the fourth-best three-player combination.

The Pacers have the next-best combination of five players.

Re-Dirkulous

According to Coach Gentry, Miami’s LeBron James and Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki are the two toughest players in the NBA to match up with because you have such a hard time doubling them.

“He’s not really a seven-foot, post-up guy so he’s always out on the floor,” Gentry said. “So it’s really tough to double him or anything like that.”

In the past, Nowitzki would have trouble with long, athletic wings that would get up underneath him and make him put the ball on the floor (see the Warriors in the 2007 Playoffs). But Gentry says that the former MVP’s game has evolved, and on top of that, you can’t really defend a 7-0 jump-shooter.

“If he wants to raise up and shoot, there’s not really much you can do about it,” he said.

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