Cougars vs. Miners Suns score, takeaways: Dallas bombs away, Suns get sloppy and Chris Paul fouls out in Game 4

After dropping two games on the road, the Dallas Mavericks tied their second-round series against the Phoenix Suns on a 111-101 victory on Sunday. The Mavs were scorching to start Game 4, shooting 8-for-13 from deep in the first quarter, and they led by as many as 17 points before halftime.

Luka Doncic shot just 1-for-10 from deep, but finished with 26 points, seven rebounds, 11 assists and four steals in 37 minutes. Dallas forward Dorian Finney-Smith shot 8-for-12 from 3-point range and scored 24 points. Reserves Spencer Dinwiddie, Maxi Kleber and Davis Bertans scored a combined 33 points and shot 7-for-13 from deep.

Chris Paul followed up his uncharacteristically sloppy Game 3, in which he turned the ball over seven times, with another strange performance. This time, he was undone by fouls. Paul picked up his fourth foul near the halftime buzzer, his fifth with 9:32 left in the third quarter and his sixth with about nine minutes remaining in the fourth. He logged only 23 minutes, finishing with five points on 2-for-4 shooting, plus seven assists, five rebounds and two turnovers.

Dallas turned up the defensive pressure on Devin Booker with Paul out of the game, but Booker still managed to score 35 points on good efficiency. Booker shot 10 for 22 from the field and 12-for-13 from the free-throw line and dished seven assists in 43 minutes.

Here are three takeaways from Game 4.

1. Maverick math

The Mavs (38-for-85) shot slightly worse Than the Suns (39-for-84) did from the field, but were virtually in control of the entire game and won by double digits. This is because, yet again, they had an enormous advantage from behind the arc.

This is a classic “math problem” series, and Dallas came into this game having an average of 40 3-point attempts in the first three games to Phoenix’s 27 attempts. The disparity was even more pronounced on Sunday, though – The Mavs shot 20-for-44 from deep, the Suns 9-for-25.

In the halfcourt, Dallas repeatedly collapsed on the Suns’ defense and found shooters open on the perimeter. It took some contested ones in the third quarter against Phoenix’s zone, but for the most part, it was about getting downhill off pick-and-rolls, isolations or post-ups and kicking it out. Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said they were aiming for a specific number of 3s, but they “truly believe” that when the ball touches the paint, good things are bound to happen.

“The big thing is we’re just trying to apply pressure,” Kidd said. “We’re trying to get the ball in the paint and not just settle. ‘Cause they’re a really good defensive team if you just swing it around the 3-point line, you run up against the clock and you take a tough one. 3. “

Kidd was pleased that Finney-Smith didn’t hesitate when the ball found him.

“When he’s playing like that, when he’s aggressive and not thinking about the shot and just catch-and-shoot, he’s as good as anyone,” Kidd said. “We needed that lift and he picked us up.”

“We gotta respect Finney-Smith more than we have,” Phoenix coach Monty Williams said. “He’s affecting the game on the offensive glass and now he’s shooting the ball well. We have to respect that.”

Doncic may have been colder than deep himself, but he made five of Finney-Smith’s 3-point makes. The Mavs shot 8-for-15 on 3s off Doncic’s passes. Booker said that the Suns need to “stay in front of our man, don’t give him any angle, don’t let him get in our point and just make it tough on him.”

“This is something that I have to fix as a coach,” Williams said. “We have to get guys off the line, we have to recognize – Luka was 1-for-10, you have to recognize that and try to keep him from getting just the paint, maybe force him to shoot. were there to help keep him out of the paint and then there were times when you get mesmerized with the ball and he fires a perfect pass for a 3. “

2. A not-so-well-oiled machine

When the Suns are at their best, they look like they have an answer for everything. The spacing is impeccable, the playmakers are unselfish and everything happens at their pace. Phoenix is ​​a hyper-efficient, low-turnover, low-foul team that excels at making shots that most defenses are designed to surrender.

Defensively, too, the Suns sometimes seem flawless. They can size up or size down, they can defend the pick-and-roll multiple ways and they won’t let their opponents transition into many easy buckets.

In Game 4, though, Phoenix didn’t look like that team, at least not consistently. The most glaring issue was Paul’s fouls – some of which were questionable calls, most of which were silly risks on his part – and the resulting time spent without his floor general. But that was far from the only one. Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder had trouble playing through foul trouble, too, and Williams lamented the Suns’ 17 turnovers, which led to 23 Mavericks points.

“It’s something that hurt us,” Williams said. “I don’t think we were organized tonight. A bit rushed.”

Phoenix had 27 assists on its 39 shots, but Williams felt that number should have been in the 30s. “I don’t think we’re trusted enough to pass,” he said, given that it should be able to collapse Dallas’ defense.

Williams said the struggles on defense were “about personal ownership right now” – Phoenix needs to be better at the ball, so it doesn’t have to help as much. He also repeatedly stressed that the Suns needed to be more aware of Dallas’ shooters off the ball, adding that it was “a recipe for disaster” to give up as many middle drives as they did.

“I thought our first-half defense was about as bad as it has been recognizing the shooters all year,” he said. “Second-half defense, you can see it wasn’t that bad. We just weren’t that great on offense.”

3. Balanced Mavericks

Kidd said that “everyone joined the party” after Dallas’ Game 3 win, in which Jalen Brunson led the team in scoring and Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock and Maxi Kleber all scored at least 14 points. In Game 4, six Mavs scored in double figures and Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie had four assists apiece.

“They’re at the party,” Kidd said. “I think one of the big things that we talked about on this journey is that we understand Luka’s talent and how good he is, but for us to be a team, there are going to be times when other guys are going to Make shots. They’re going to take the ball out of Luka’s hands. And you saw that this afternoon. “

Brunson wasn’t as awesome as he was on Friday, but he finished with 18 points on 7-for-17 shooting and made a couple of timely plays when Doncic got a brief rest in the second half. Dallas led by just six points when Doncic went to the bench with about two minutes left in the third quarter, and when he checked back into the fourth quarter, the lead was up to nine.

Game 5 is Tuesday in Phoenix.

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