PHOENIX – – The top Phoenix Suns holders were ready for another fourth-quarter playoff fight on Wednesday night.
Chris Paul turned into an early knockout.
The twelve-time All-Star scored 28 points, including 14 in another spectacular final period, to lead the Suns over the Dallas Mavericks 129-109 for a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.
Paul, who turns 37 on Friday, almost turned a solid game into a pleasant victory on his own – the Suns ’11th win in a row against the Mavericks counting regular season games.
“You just have to rely on work,” Paul said. “Everything goes back to work. You can’t cheat the game. You have to work your strength and fitness, you have to lift, you have to rest, you have to climb.
“When you do, you live with the results.”
Sun guard Devin Booker he said he ran out of ways to describe Paul’s heroism in the fourth quarter.
“Tell me, you’re watching the same thing,” Booker said. “He impresses us every time we see him, but it doesn’t surprise us. It’s just the will to win.”
The Mavs led 60-58 at halftime, but the Suns quickly regained the lead after Booker hit three consecutive three-pointers at the start of the third. The Suns had an 89-83 lead in the final quarter and it looked like a tough fight was coming.
But that’s roughly the time Paul decided the game could control the game, hitting six strokes in a row on everything from three-pointers to mid-jumper to passing. The fierce Mavericks finally had no answer. Booker hit a pair of threes in the middle of the fourth and brought the Suns to a 114-95 lead.
Booker led the Suns with 30 points on 11 of 19 shots, including 5 of 8 from a 3-point range. The Suns hit a total of 64.5% – a franchise record in the playoffs – and scored 52% of their threes. In the fourth quarter, they shot 84% from the field (16 of 19).
“We have good players,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “I’d love to sit here and tell you I’m moving chess pieces, but we have good players who can tear down punches.”
The third game is played Friday in Dallas.
The Mavericks will return home in a 2-0 hole, desperate for the contributions of someone other than them Luka Dončićwho scored 35 points in two shots 13 of 22 nights after a 45-point performance in the first game.
“He had a great game, but no one else showed it,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said. “We have to make the other guys kick the ball better. We can’t just win with him out there scoring 30 goals a night. Not at this time of year and I play with the best team in the league. ”
Reggie Bullock added 16 points for the Mavs.
“The mood is good,” Doncic said. “I think a lot of players are in this situation for the first time. They have to win four, so it’s not over yet. We will return home, our audience is amazing. ”
The Suns jumped 9-0 for the second game in a row, but the Mavericks had a better response than in the first game.
Dallas slowly retaliated and Spencer Dinwiddie hit a pair of free throws and equalized at 38. Davis Bertans followed by a three-pointer with 7:56 to go in the second quarter to give the Mavs a 41-38 advantage and their first lead in a row.
The Mavs took the lead by two points after the first half filled with fouls. Doncic scored 24 before the break in a shot of 9 out of 14, including 4 of 7 from a 3-point range. Jae Crowder led the Suns with 15.
Mavericks: Bertans gave the Mavs good minutes in the first half, scoring nine points and scoring 3 of 6 off the field. … Dončić turned briefly and stared at the Suns heckler late in the third quarter as he left the field for the tunnel. Dončić was quickly taken away from the fans by Dallas employees.
Suns: Shot 64.7% off the field in the first quarter. … Crowder made a technical error in the second quarter. Ayton was called for a flagrant 1 foul after being called for a foul in attack, catching Dwight Powell in the face with the elbow. … Phoenix hosted a sold-out audience for the 31st game in a row.