Phoenix Suns Dog It in Nine-Point Road Loss to Dallas Mavericks

Alvin Gentry and Steve Nash complained about it in their post-game remarks.

As usual, the coach and the veteran point guard were on the same page.

The Suns didn't hustle as a team. Too many Suns played like old ladies.  

Vowing that the team will get better in this strike-plagued, young season, Nash said the Suns need to go after loose balls with a vengeance, get back faster on defense, play like they mean it.

Gentry centered on the rebounding gap -- 53 by the Mavs to 42 by the Suns  -- and especially on the 20 offensive reebounds Dallas pulled down to Phoenix's 11. So many second-chance points put the Suns in a deep hole. 

"We do a better job on the boards, and we have an opportunity to win the game," Gentry said.

Indeed the Suns' lethargic attitude was the difference in this 98-89 contest at American Airlines Center in Dallas, where Nash starred with Mavs big-man Dirk Nowitzki before he was traded to Phoenix seven seasons ago.

And the two-time MVP played well in this homecoming, scoring 15 points and handing out 12 assists.

Certainly no lack of hustle on Nash's part -- or on that of the oldest starting player in the NBA, Grant Hill, who scored 14 points while chasing Nowitzki around the court all night. The 39-year-old held the super-kraut to 20 points.

But whatever Nowitzki gave up, guard Jason Terry took back. The former Arizona Wildcats phenom scored 18 points off the bench, hitting five of eight three-pointers. It was Terry who put the game away in the fourth quarter with his shooting prowess.

Long-gone Suns forward Shawn Marion was no slouch in the game himself -- playing with flu-like symptoms, he scored 13 points for Dallas and snatched seven boards (six of them offensive).

The defending-champ Mavericks, after losing their first three games, improved to 3-4, while Phoenix fell to 2-4.

Next up for the Suns: the Portland Trail Blazers at US Airways Center on Friday. Tip-off's at 8 p.m. TV: Fox Sports AZ. For more information, go to

Let's hope the Suns pick up the pace -- or this strike-shortened season's going to be a long one. 

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Rick Barrs
Contact: Rick Barrs