Suns score vs. Mavericks takeaways: Luka Doncic, Jalen Brunson lead Dallas to crucial Game 3 win over Phoenix

The Dallas Mavericks revived in their best-of-seven series against the Phoenix Suns after Friday night’s 103-94 victory in Game 3 to help Dallas avoid what would easily be seen as an insurmountable 3-0 deficit. . With the win, the Mavericks now have the chance to tie the series at home on Sunday.

Luka Doncic was fantastic for Dallas in the win finishing the game with 26 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, but he also had plenty of help as four other Mavericks players scored in double figures, led by Jalen Brunson’s record 28 points. On the other side, the entire Phoenix starting lineup scored in double figures, but they didn’t get enough support from their bench to keep pace with Dallas.

We’ll see what happens next when these two teams meet again this Sunday.

Here are three key points of the game:

1. Doncic puts on a show with post footwork

The Suns pulled away from the Mavericks in Game 2 largely because they attacked Luka Doncic over and over defensively, and he got no response. It was so bad that Doncic was called up by head coach Jason Kidd, who said he had to “come in and play defense”.

While Doncic didn’t suddenly become Scottie Pippen, he was at least participating to that end in Game 3. And in truth, that’s more than enough when he’s dominating on the attacking side of the ball. Although hampered by fouls at times, Doncic put in another terrific performance on Friday, finishing with 26 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists and two steals in just 34 minutes.

But while Doncic usually amazes with his 3 pass or drop points, he went deep into his bag of tricks in Game 3 and put on a show with his footwork afterwards. He absolutely cooked Deandre Ayton with an up-and-under classic:

Then he took Devin Booker into the paint and pretended and worked his way into another easy bucket:

Eight of Doncic’s 11 field goals came on the rim, as he worked his way inside early and often in Game 3. While Doncic has to play his part in defense, this game was a another reminder that he makes his money when he has the ball. his hands.

2. Brunson, Mavs roleplayers step up

The first two games of this series have been Luka Doncic’s spectacle for the Mavericks on offense – even more so than usual. He scored or assisted on 43 of the Mavericks’ 76 field goals (56.6%) in Games 1 and 2. That’s impressive, but it’s also not a recipe for success against such a formidable team. than the Suns.

Dallas needed its players to step in and offer other offensive options if they were to have any chance of returning to this series. To their credit, they did just that on Friday night. The bench points were pretty even – 18-17 in favor of the Mavericks – but the other starters around Doncic were terrific. Reggie Bullock, Dorian Finney-Smith and Jalen Brunson all scored in double figures and combined for 47 points.

Brunson, in particular, was key. He was awesome in the first round against the Utah Jazz, carrying the Mavericks at the time in Doncic’s absence. But against the Suns, he couldn’t do anything. That changed in Game 3, as he came out aggressive and had 10 points in the first quarter. He kept that spirit all the way and finished with 28 points, four rebounds and five assists in by far his best game of the series.

The Mavericks will need Brunson to carry that into Game 4 if they want to even the series.

3. Paul, Suns off their game

The Mavericks deserve a lot of credit for how they reacted in Game 3. They were down 2-0 and had been hampered at times in Phoenix in the first two games. It was a big statement that they weren’t about to lie down and let the Suns walk all over them en route to the Western Conference Finals.

At the same time, we have to acknowledge that it was just an odd performance by the Suns. The first few minutes were fine, but after that they didn’t look like the team that took a 2-0 series lead and looked like Western Conference class. They were sloppy with the ball, missing the shots they usually took and generally looked uncomfortable.

Nothing illustrated this more than Chris Paul’s seven turnovers in the first half. He didn’t have that many turnovers in the first two games combined and never had even six turnovers in one half in a playoff game in his career. The Mavericks defense played a role, but there were a bunch of unusual plays where Paul just lost the ball or threw a pass off target.

In the weirdest moment of all, he denied a wide-open layup to throw a hook pass with his left hand that caught Deandre Ayton completely off guard.

Again, the Mavericks won this game. That’s not to take away what they achieved, but rather to not say it was a weird performance from Paul – on his birthday, no less.

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