PHOENIX -- Shane Larkin felt like the long ranger Friday night. So he decided to revert back to his college days and do what he does best.
As the only healthy point guard on the Dallas Mavericks' roster, Larkin came off the bench Friday and tallied a season-high 18 points, hand out five assists and collect two steals in a season-high 27 minutes as the Mavs edged the Phoenix Suns, 110-107, at the US Airways Center.
Earlier Friday, rookie point guard Gal Mekel underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. And starting point guard Jose Calderon left the game against the Suns for good with 9:43 remaining after suffering a right knee contusion.
So, with veteran point guard Devin Harris (foot surgery) in street clothes and still not well enough to play in his first game of the season, the only healthy point guard on the roster was Larkin. And did he ever take advantage of the situation as the rookie from Miami sparkled time and time again and helped keep the Mavs in a game that nearly got away from them.
"I finally feel like I played my game,'' said Larkin, who tallied six of the Mavs' final eight points. "Jose is out, Devin is out, Gal is out with the knee, so I kind of just was the only healthy point guard out there.
"I know how to play well, so I just really got back into doing what I did in college and being real aggressive off the ball screen, and that's how coach wants me to play all the time. It's just as a rookie you don't want to go out there and make any mistakes.''
Larkin did commit two turnovers on the night -- both in the fourth quarter. But he was phenomenal when the Mavs needed him the most as he scored nine of his points in the frantic final quarter.
"This is why we drafted him,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. "We felt like he could have this kind of impact
"Jose banged (his right) knee in the first half and it wasn't quite right in the second half, and so we totally changed our rotation and Shane responded in a big way. He made plays down the stretch, made free throws, hit guys.''
Larkin converted 6-of-8 shots, including 2-of-3 from three-point land. When he wasn't attacking the basket -- or setting up his teammates for buckets -- he was just being a pest all night to the Suns.
"That's my go-to move right there, the high-ball screen,'' Larkin said. "Just get to the lane, create for others, that's me right there.
"Just to be able to have the opportunity to go out tonight and show that I can still do that in the NBA is a great thing for my confidence and a great thing hopefully for the coaches to see that. I've just got to keep building on that performance.''
With Calderon's body failing him, Larkin played 20 minutes in the second half, including the final 9:43 of the game. And if Calderon is not ready in less than 24 hours, Larkin could find himself in the starting lineup when the Mavs (24-17) host Portland at 7:30 Saturday night at American Airlines Center.
"Today it was kind of just go out and just do what you do,'' Larkin said. "I'm not the starting point guard, but we don't have any other healthy point guards right now on the roster.
"I don't know how many minutes I played in the second half. But it was just a great feeling to go out and play again.''
-- Dwain Price
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