The Phoenix Suns scrapped and clawed, in the words of Head Coach Alvin Gentry, but just couldn't get the job done against the Dallas Mavericks in a 112-106 loss last night.
Dallas came out swinging, taking an early lead in the first quarter before expanding it in the second. At one point, the Mavericks led by 10, but the Suns narrowed it down to 54-51 at halftime.
It was a seesaw battle through the third, with the Suns tying the game three minutes into the second half on a Vince Carter three, which the Mavs' Jason Terry answered immediately with a three of his own.
Planet Orange took the lead, 80-76, but gave up 9 unanswered points to end the third down 85-80.
Despite the deficit, the Suns played hard, narrowing the lead to 94-92. That was, however, the closest the Suns got, as the Mavericks began to pull away after Dirk Nowitzki hit two free throws and Tyson Chandler dunked a missed Nowitzki three-pointer to take Dallas up 100-94. From there, it was just a matter of time.
Nowitzki scored a ridiculous 35 points against the Suns, who seemed to have no answer for him all game long. Coach Gentry told TNT at half-time that the Suns would have to do a better job stopping him. That didn't happen.
Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion, and Jason Kidd had great rebounding games for the Mavericks, exposing the Suns' lack of physicality in the paint.
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Channing Frye showed up for the Suns, hitting 9 of 15 for 24 points. Steve Nash hit 15, with 14 assists, proving once again that he can still play against the better teams in the league -- a category in which this year's Suns team does not belong.
The All-Star Break is a welcome opportunity for the Suns to recharge, but the team will now have to decide whether it wants to trade Nash and begin rebuilding, or keep him in hopes of maintaining fan interest and maybe sneak into the playoffs, where they would likely be bounced in the first round.
Press reports have suggested that the Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic, Portland Trail Blazers, Toronto Raptors, and the Mavericks are all interested in Nash, who leads the league in assists. The trade deadline is February 24th.
The Suns will be off until Wednesday February 23, which is a 7 o clock start on FSAZ. See the team website for more information.