Jae CROWDER broke a tie with two free throws with 2:34 remaining and DeAndre Ayton slammed home a Chris Paul assist 67 seconds later, helping the host Phoenix Suns outfinish the Luka Doncic-less Dallas Mavericks for a 105-98 victory on Wednesday night.
Doncic was scratched from the lineup during the day when the Mavericks made a decision to give his sore left knee and ankle some time to heal. He is unlikely to play in the rematch with the Suns on Friday.
The tightly contested matchup had 19 lead changes, including six after a Devin Booker layup put Phoenix in front 87-86 with 5:32 remaining.
Jalen Brunson’s layup with 2:42 to go produced the game’s seventh and final tie, after which Crowder ignited the Suns’ fast finish after getting fouled by Kristaps Porzingis on a shot attempt.
Booker’s 3-pointer with 50.2 remaining iced the Suns’ 10th straight win.
Booker led six Suns in double figures with 24 points on a night when Phoenix overcame 50% 3-point shooting by the Mavericks and a 48-39 deficit in points off threes.
Ayton finished with a game-high-tying 13 rebounds to go with 19 points, while Paul contributed a game-high 14 assists with just seven points.
Crowder (14 points), Landry Shamet (11), Mikal Bridges (10) and JaVale McGee (10) also scored in double figures for the Suns, who trailed by as many as eight points in the third quarter.
Tim Hardaway, Jr. had a team-high 22 points and Porzingis 21 for the Mavericks, who lost for just the second time in their last seven games.
Hardaway had three of Dallas’ 16 3-pointers, as did Frank Ntilikina, who finished with 13 points off the bench, and Dorian Finney-Smith, who did all his scoring from beyond the arc.
Dwight Powell matched Ayton’s rebound total with 13 to pace the Mavericks, while Brunson added 18 points and Trey Burke got 10.
Brunson just missed double- and triple-doubles with nine rebounds and a team-high nine assists. — Reuters