Mavericks score vs. Suns takeaway: Dallas bombs, Suns get sloppy, Chris Paul fouls in Game 4

Mavericks score vs. Suns takeaway: Dallas bombs, Suns get sloppy, Chris Paul fouls in Game 4

After losing two games on the road, the Dallas Mavericks tied their second-round streak against the Phoenix Suns with a 111-101 win on Sunday. The Mavs were scorching to start Game 4, shooting 8 for 13 from deep in the first quarter, and they were up 17 points leading before halftime.

Luka Doncic shot just 1 of 10 from deep but finished with 26 points, seven rebounds, 11 assists and four steals in 37 minutes. Dallas forward Dorian Finney-Smith shot 8 for 12 from 3-pointers and scored 24 points. Reserves Spencer Dinwiddie, Maxi Kleber and Davis Bertans scored a total of 33 points and shot 7-for-13 from deep.

Chris Paul followed up his uncharacteristically sloppy Game 3, in which he turned the ball over seven times, with another odd performance. This time he was defeated by fouls. Paul committed his fourth foul near the halftime buzzer, his fifth with 9:32 left in the third quarter and his sixth with about nine minutes left in the fourth. He recorded just 23 minutes, finishing with five points on 2-for-4 shooting, plus seven assists, five rebounds and two turnovers.

Dallas increased the defensive pressure on Devin Booker with Paul out of the game, but Booker still managed to score 35 points thanks to good efficiency. Booker shot 10 for 22 from the field and 12 for 13 from the free throw line and delivered seven assists in 43 minutes.

Here are three takeaways from Game 4.

1. Mavericks Mathematics

The Mavs (38 for 85) fired lightly worse than the Suns (39 for 84) from the field, but controlled most of the game and won by double digits. That’s because, again, they had a huge advantage behind the arc.

It’s a classic series of “math problems,” and Dallas entered this game having averaged 40 3-point attempts in the first three games to Phoenix’s 27 attempts. The disparity was even more pronounced on Sunday, however – the Mavs shot 20 for 44 from deep, the Suns 9 for 25.

In half court, Dallas repeatedly crumbled the Suns’ defense and found open shooters on the perimeter. It took a few contested ones in the third quarter against the Phoenix zone, but, for the most part, it was down pick-and-rolls, isolations or post-ups and kicking them out. Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said they weren’t aiming for a specific number of 3s, but they “truly believe” that when the ball hits the paint, good things will happen.

“The big problem is that we’re trying to apply pressure,” Kidd said. “We try to get the ball in the paint and not just set it up. Because they’re a really good defensive team if you spin it around the 3-point line, you run against the clock and you take a hard 3 .”

Kidd was delighted Finney-Smith didn’t hesitate when the ball found him.

“When he’s playing like that, when he’s aggressive and he’s not thinking about shooting and he’s just catching and shooting, he’s as good as anybody,” Kidd said. “We needed that lift and it came to pick us up.”

“We have to respect Finney-Smith more than we did,” Phoenix coach Monty Williams said. “He affects the game on the attacking glass and now he shoots the ball well. We have to respect that.”

Doncic may have been cold from top to bottom, but he created five of Finney-Smith’s 3-point marks. The Mavs shot 8 for 15 with 3 seconds off Doncic’s passes. Booker said the Suns needed to “stay in front of our man, don’t give him any angles, don’t let him get into our talk and make it hard on him.”

“It’s something I have to sort out as a coach,” Williams said. “We have to get the guys out of the line, we have to recognize – Luka was 1 out of 10, you have to recognize him and try to stop him from reaching the paint, maybe force him to shoot. Were helping to keep him out of the paint and then there were times when you’re mesmerized by him dribbling the ball and shooting a perfect pass for a 3.”

2. A not-so-well-oiled machine

When the Suns are at their best, they seem to have the answer to everything. The spacing is impeccable, the playmakers are selfless and everything happens at their own pace. Phoenix is ​​a hyper-efficient, low-rotation, low-foul team that excels at shooting that most defenses are designed to give up.

Defensively too, the Suns sometimes seem flawless. They can go up or down in size, they can defend the pick-and-roll in a number of ways, and they don’t give their opponents a lot of easy buckets in transition.

In Game 4, however, Phoenix didn’t look like this team, at least not consistently. The most glaring issue was Paul’s fouls – some of which were dodgy calls, most of which were stupid risks on his part – and the resulting time spent without his floor general. But it was far from the only one. Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder also had to play with fouls, and Williams lamented the Suns’ 17 turnovers, which led to 23 Mavericks points.

“It was something that hurt us,” Williams said. “I don’t think we were that organized tonight. A little rushed.”

Phoenix had 27 assists on 39 shots, but Williams felt that number should have been in the 30s. “I don’t think we trusted the pass enough,” he said, given that she should be able to bring down the Dallas defense.

Williams said the struggles on defense are about “personal ownership right now” — Phoenix needs to be better at containing the ball, so that doesn’t have to help as much. He also repeatedly stressed that the Suns need to be more aware of Dallas shooters away from the ball, adding that it’s “a recipe for disaster” to give up as many middle shots as they have.

“I thought our defense in the first half was about as bad as it’s been all year when it comes to recognizing shooters,” he said. “The defense in the second half, you can see it wasn’t that bad. We just weren’t that good in attack.”

3. Balanced Mavericks

Kidd said ‘everyone joined in the fun’ after Dallas won Game 3, in which Jalen Brunson led the team and Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock and Maxi Kleber all scored at least 14 points. In Game 4, six Mavs scored in double figures and Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie each had four assists.

“They’re celebrating,” Kidd said. “I think you know that one of the big things we’ve talked about on this trip is that we understand Luka’s talent and how good he is, but for us to be a team there will be times when other guys have to shoot. They’re going to take the ball out of Luka’s hands. And you saw that this afternoon.

Brunson wasn’t as great as he was on Friday, but he finished with 18 points on 7-for-17 shooting and made a few timely plays when Doncic was briefly rested in the second half. Dallas led by just six points when Doncic went to the bench with about two minutes left in the third quarter, and when he returned early in the fourth, the lead was nine.

Game 5 is Tuesday in Phoenix.

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