PHOENIX _ Rick Carlisle didn’t get too carried away with Monday’s 122-99 win over the
Sure, the Dallas Mavericks shot a spectacular 55.2 percent from the field and tallied a season high in points. But when the Mavs found out that a left thigh contusion would keep Suns point guard Steve Nash on the sidelines, the Mavs knew that was a huge advantage in their favor.
The Mavs used that advantage to their advantage en route to pounding the Suns, 122-99, before 13,132 at US Airways Center.
“We caught a break with Nash not playing,’’ Carlisle, the Mavs’ coach, said. “I don’t think you can overlook that as a big factor in the game, but we played.
“I thought our effort was even and consistent. We were able to keep fresh guys on the floor and we moved the ball well and made shots.’’
The Mavs were in such a zone that they converted 14-of-27 baskets from three-point land. That marksmanship sucked the life out of the Suns.
“I wouldn’t say it was demoralizing,’’ Suns guard Josh Childress said. “But when you’re trying and you’re playing as hard as we were, and to just consistently get his with three after three after three, it’s frustrating.
“We have to really focus on running those guys off the (three-point) line. But also trying to rebound the ball and get out on the break, (that) puts the pressure on them.’’This game was never in doubt.
The Mavs led 31-24 after the first quarter, 66-48 at the half and 96-70 after the third period. The 66 points are the most the Mavs are scored in any half this season.
In other words, the Mavs had their feet on the pedal all night long and the Suns didn’t have enough weapons to counter-punch.
“They’ve always been tough for us,’’ Suns guard Jared Dudley said. “They have a great defense, they have different counters, they got people that can score in different ways.’’
The Mavs led by as many as 28 points and were so efficient on offense that they collected 31 assists.
“It’s just a tough team to guard,’’ Dudley said. “And once they start hitting shots the flood gates really opened and it was tough for us.’’
The 14 treys are the most the Mavs have hit in a game this season. The Mavs were so on fire that they were 10-of-16 from downtown in the first half.
Dudley said: “Even when we had a hand up on good defense they were hitting it, and when we had bad defense they made us pay every time.’’
Delonte West led the Mavs with a season-high 25 points, six assists and two steals. West made 9-of-12 shots, including 5-of-6 from three-point range.
“I can shoot the basketball,’’ West said. “We just found the game within the game.
“The ball came south to the open man and I just stepped up and knock those shots down.’’
Vince Carter also knocked down his share of shots for the Mavs, finishing with a season-high 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting.
“We were moving the ball and finding open guys and the guys are hitting shots, which just makes it tough,’’ said Carter, who was 5-of-7 from three-point territory. “We have a couple of guys that can make plays, but it’s a fun game when guys are moving it, because this team doesn’t really care who
“You worry about are we playing together, are we making the right play. And we’ve done that.’’
Shawn Marion tallied 20 points for the Mavs and Jason Terry tossed in 11. Marion, who played the first eight-and-a-half years of his career for the Suns, was asked about any extra motivations he was carrying while playing in Phoenix for the first time since the Mavs won last season’s NBA title.
“It’s a little different coming here and playing a s visitor coming here and playing in this gym,’’ Marion said. “I’m a Dallas Maverick right now and that’s all you can focus on.
“When you play in a city like this for a long time there is definitely part of you that is still there.’’
Meanwhile, in his second game back after sitting out four games with a sore right knee, Dirk Nowitzki tallied 10 points on 4-of-10 shots for the Mavs and was moving ore precise.
“I’m getting better,’’ Nowitzki said. “I obviously got some work to do, but I think my legs are stronger and even (Sunday against San Antonio) I was able to put the ball on the floor.
“I’ve got to be able to move and put the ball on the floor a little bit. I like the progress.’’
The Mavs must be liking their overall progress as a team. After starting the season with a 1-4 record, the Mavs are 14-8 after winning 13 of their last 17 games.
In other words, the Mavs are steadily finding their groove.
“It almost feels a little bit like last year,’’ Nowitzki said. “We’ve got a bunch of veterans that want to play, they’re not selfish.’’
-- Dwain Price
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