PHOENIX – The Dallas Mavericks, with their offence rolling in high gear, gave Phoenix fans a glimpse of how ugly life could be without Steve Nash.
With the Suns’ 37-year-old star point guard sidelined with a bruised left thigh, the Mavericks routed Phoenix 122-99 on Monday night, the third victory in a row and sixth in seven games for the reigning NBA champions.
“We caught a break with Nash not playing,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “I don’t think you can overlook that as a big factor in the game. We played and I thought our effort was even and consistent. We were able to keep fresh guys on the floor. We moved the ball well and made shots and our defence was good enough to win.”
Nash is certainly no defensive stopper, though, so his absence could not explain the Mavericks’ onslaught in Dallas’ eighth straight victory over Phoenix.
“They’ve always been tough for us,” the Suns’ Jared Dudley said. “It’s just a tough team to guard and once they start hitting shots, the flood gates really opened.”
A strained right calf sidelined Dallas point guard Jason Kidd for the second night in a row, but the Mavericks were just fine without him, amassing a season-high in points for a half (66) and for a game.
Delonte West scored a season-high 25 for Dallas on 9 of 12 shooting, including 5 of 6 three-pointers. Vince Carter, still being paid by Phoenix after the Suns waived him before the season began, scored 21 for the second night in a row.
“We have so many playmakers, so many guys who can put the ball in the hole,” West said. “We just have to trust each other and that was on display tonight. We didn’t have our leader, Jason Kidd out in the mix. He can knock down three-pointers. We hope we can build on this and get him back as soon as possible and get him back in the flow of things.”
The Mavericks were 13-5 in January, wrapping the month up with wins on consecutive nights over San Antonio and Phoenix.
Carter was waived by Phoenix when the lockout ended, but his contract still guaranteed him US$4 million. He would have made $18 million had he stayed with Phoenix. He had missed five games with a sprained left foot before returning two games ago. He has matched his season high with 21 points in each of his last two appearances.
“Just getting into the flow,” he said. “With the injury, I had some time to get my body right and focus on getting healthy. I was trying to do all the things I could to just to get back and step back in and continue to play.”
The 122 points surpassed Dallas’ 116 against Utah two games ago. It also was the highest score for a Phoenix opponent this season, topping the Bulls’ 118-97 victory at Chicago on Jan. 17.
Longtime Sun Shawn Marion scored 20 for the Mavericks, winners of three straight and six of seven.
Dirk Nowitzki had 10 points in his second game back after missing four games to rest his sore right knee.
Marcin Gortat had 17 points and 10 rebounds for Phoenix. Dudley added 15 points, Sebastian Telfair 13 and Grant Hill 12.
Dallas shot 55 per cent, including 14 of 27 on 3-pointers.
Phoenix had cut Dallas’ lead to 55-47 on Gortat’s 9-footer with 1:56 left in the half, then the Mavericks finished the half with an 11-1 run, taking a 66-48 lead on West’s layup at the buzzer. Officials reviewed the play and called it good. West had a pair of 3-pointers to start the run.
The Suns got no closer than 16 early in the second half, with Dallas leading by as many as 28.
Notes: Nash needs seven assists to pass Kevin Johnson as the Suns’ career assists leader. … Dallas had never beaten Phoenix eight times in a row until Monday night. … Phoenix last beat Dallas on Jan. 28, 2010. … The Mavericks have scored 116, 101 and 122 in their last three games after reaching the century mark four times in their first 19 games.