Mavs go defensive: DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks defeated Phoenix Suns 103-94 on Friday night, with Luka Doncic scoring 26 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.
The Mavericks ruined Chris Paul’s 37th birthday by causing him to commit seven turnovers in the first half of a playoff game.
Dallas trimmed the Suns’ series lead to 2-1 and snapped an 11-game losing run over Phoenix during the regular season. Game 4 is Sunday in Dallas.
After halftime, Paul had no more turnovers, but the Suns finally struggled with their shooting when they weren’t turning it over. Phoenix shot 45 percent, snapping an eight-game streak of at least 50 percent shooting in the playoffs.
Doncic narrowly missed a triple-double with nine assists, while Jalen Brunson led Dallas with 28 points after struggling in the two defeats in Phoenix when Doncic averaged 40 points but didn’t receive enough assistance.
Phoenix’s Jae Crowder scored 19, but the Mavericks minimized Devin Booker’s influence in the same manner they did Paul. Booker scored 18 but was only 2 of 7 inside the 3-point line, while Paul had 12 on just nine attempts (five made) (five made).
A scrambling Dallas defense was the explanation, beginning from the opening tip with Reggie Bullock chasing Paul everywhere. When Spencer Dinwiddie tiptoed toward the sideline after a steal for a layup in transition, the Mavericks moved into passing lanes.
Bucks forward Khris Middleton will play at least the next two games with the left medial collateral ligament tear, but the longer that line lasts, the more likely he will play in this round.
Doncic was forced to leave the game with his fifth foul early in the fourth quarter. And the Suns reduced an 18-point lead earlier in half to nine immediately after he returned.
Brunson responded with free throws to push the lead back to double digits, and the Mavericks earned enough stops in their strongest defensive performance of the series to maintain a comfortable advantage.
Doncic blocked Crowder from grabbing a steal around midcourt with a minute left, resulting in a corner 3 from Bullock, who scored 15. He and Dorian Finney-Smith (14 points) each had four 3s.
Mavs go defensive: TIP-INS
Mikal Bridges had a technical foul late in the first half, and Paul received one early in the second. Both came out of timeouts. Torrey Craig was sidelined due to a right elbow injury. He had little action in the first two games of the series.
Mavericks: Bullock, who spent lots of time protecting Paul in the first half, was labeled as doubtful with a rib injury at halftime. … Orlando coach Jamahl Mosley, a former Dallas assistant, attended the game. Cole Anthony and Wendell Carter Jr., two of his teammates, were with him.
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