Luka Doncic heroics not nearly enough as Suns cruise to 2-0 series lead over Mavericks

·3-min read

For a second straight game, Luka Doncic was spectacular against the Phoenix Suns.

For a second straight game, it didn't matter.

The matchup problems that plagued the Dallas Mavericks in a 121-114 Game 1 loss were omnipresent in Game 2 as the Suns blew open a close game in the fourth quarter for a 129-109 win on Wednesday to take a 2-0 series lead in the Western Conference semifinals.

Powered by 20 points from Chris Paul and 21 from Devin Booker in the second half, the Suns turned an 11-0 fourth-quarter run into a 23-2 streak that prompted both teams to empty their benches for the game's final four minutes. This was a game Dallas led 60-58 at halftime.

May 4, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) moves the ball against Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) during the second half in game two of the second round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Mavericks had no answers for Chris Paul and the Suns. (Mark J. Rebilas, Reuters)

A Mavericks team that finished seventh in the regular season in defensive rating gave up 120-plus points for a second straight game. Dallas had no answers for Phoenix's size and athleticism as the Suns shot a season-high and franchise playoff-record 64.5% from the field. Eleven Suns players attempted field goals on Wednesday. They all shot 50% or better from the field.

Doncic, who tallied 45 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds in Monday's Game 1 loss, came up big again with 35 points, seven assists and five rebounds while shooting 5-of-10 from 3-point distance. But he had to work for it. Paul is a nine-time All-Defensive Team member while Booker and Mikal Bridges are among the NBA's best perimeter defenders.

Nothing comes easy against this Suns defense. It didn't for Dallas on Wednesday, which saw just two Mavericks players (Reggie Bullock, 16 points; Spencer Dinwiddie, 11 points) join Doncic in double digits. When the Suns offense is clicking — and it was clicking on Wednesday — Phoenix looks unbeatable.

After scoring eight points in the first half, Paul exploded in the second en route to 28 points, eight assists and six rebounds while shooting 11 of 16 from the field. He scored 14 of his 28 in the fourth quarter as the Suns blew the game open.

Booker likewise caught fire late after scoring nine points and failing to convert a 3-pointer in the first half. He finished with 30 points, four rebounds and four assists while shooting 11 of 19 from the field and 5 of 8 from 3-point distance. The Suns backcourt was dialed in against an overmatched Dallas defense.

Dwight Powell started at center for Dallas, but played just 13 minutes as he got into foul trouble against a more athletic Deandre Ayton. The Mavericks went small in an effort to keep up with the Suns, leaving the interior defense exposed for Paul to get what he wanted while attacking the basket late.

The series shifts to Dallas for Game 3 on Friday, where Mavericks coach Jason Kidd will be hard-pressed to find answers for a Suns lineup that's equally potent on both ends of the floor.

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