Mavericks take advantage of Suns’ turnovers to win Game 3, cut series deficit to 2-1

DALLAS — The Phoenix Suns attempted 14 fewer shots from the field.

They turned the ball over 17 times that led to 22 Dallas Mavericks points.

And Chris Paul committed a season-high seven turnovers on his 37th birthday.

“Felt like all seven of them were back-to-back-to-back, too,” Paul said. “And a couple more back-to-backs right there, too.”

Add Jalen Brunson breaking out with a game-high 28 points to go along with Luka Doncic scoring 26 through foul trouble, and Phoenix dropped Friday’s Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals 103-94 before a sellout crowd of 20,777 at American Airlines Center.

“I think we tallied quickly to 38 points off of (turnovers and offensive rebounds),” said Suns coach Monty Williams after Phoenix also gave up eight offensive rebounds and 16 second-chance points.

“Just felt like they brought a great deal of effort along with them coming up with those tip-outs or 50/50 balls, whatever the case was. We missed, I think by our calculations, around 20 shots around the basket that we normally make.”

Game 4 is Sunday afternoon in Dallas (3:30 pm ET, ESPN) followed by Game 5 on Tuesday in Phoenix (10 pm ET, TNT).

“Just understanding the situation, understanding that we’ve been in (a playoff) series before,” said Devin Booker, who committed five turnovers. “We were up 2-0 coming to their home floor and people want to see more basketball games. So we’re going to play some more basketball.”

Now up 2-1 in this best-of-seven, the top-seeded Suns shot less than 50% for the first time in the postseason. They are connected on 44.7% of their shots, going 13-of-28 from 3-point range.

Fourth-seeded Dallas only committed eight turnovers and led by as many as 18 points, but Phoenix got within eight with 1:09 left before Reggie Bullock closed the door with a 3 with 55 seconds remaining.

“It was a great team win,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said. “JB, Spencer (Dinwiddie), Maxi (Kleber), Luka, Reggie, everybody joined the party. They helped out on both ends and Luka was great defensively. He participated, too. Puts us in a different position when that happens.”

Jae Crowder scored a team-high 19 points, hitting 5-of-8 from 3, to lead the Suns, while Booker added 18.

The Suns played without Torrey Craig, who suffered an elbow injury in Game 2.

“They just wanted it a little tad bit more,” Crowder said. “They played harder. They played more aggressive.”

The one number Phoenix had going in his favor was Doncic being in foul trouble.

Doncic picked up his fifth in the fourth quarter with Dallas leading by 17 points with 8:07 remaining. He left the game imitating what he felt Paul did to draw the offensive foul.

“I don’t think those were fouls,” Doncic said. “I mean, it’s playoffs. It’s a physical game, but the fifth foul? I don’t know the last time somebody called a fifth foul on that.”

The Suns got within nine with 4:11 left, but Brunson answered with four points, with his last two giving Dallas a 99-86 lead with 2:07 left.

The Mavs led by 15 at the end of three as Brunson had 24 points on 9-of-19 shooting after scoring 21 on 9-of-28 shooting in Games 1 and 2 combined.

Luka Doncic (77) had 26 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists in the Mavericks’ Game 3 win.

“I just wanted him to be aggressive,” said Kidd as Brunson shot 10-of-21 for the game. “We talked before the game. Just be yourself and I thought this was the first time he was aggressive. He didn’t wait. He wasn’t surveying. When the ball touches the paint, good things happen for us.”

Doncic picked up his fourth foul with Dallas up 71-55 with 5:14 left in the third. He didn’t play the rest of the quarter, but Dallas still led by 15 points, 82-67, going into the fourth after Phoenix got within 12.

“I didn’t feel like we had a rhythm tonight on offense, to be straight with you, at all,” Williams said. “You saw flashes of it, but we just didn’t have the same kind of offensive connection that we had in Phoenix.”

Phoenix trailed by as many as 14 points before closing the first half on 10-3 run to pull within seven at the break, 51-44. The Suns opened with a 13-7 advantage before Dallas went on a 19-3 run to go up 10 points, 26-16.

“Some of that is to be expected when you’re playing against a team and you’re up two games,” Williams said. “You know they’re going to come out and hit you in the mouth, but I thought we could’ve settled down a little bit more on offense.”

Paul committed all seven of turnovers in the first half. His playoff career high is eight set in 2012 against the San Antonio Spurs while playing for the Los Angeles Clippers.

“If I don’t turn the ball over like that, I feel like it’s a different game,” Paul said. “Give them a lot of credit. They came out and did what they were supposed to do.”

The 17-year veteran also drew a technical foul with 9:45 left in the third.

“I was clapping,” Paul said. “Didn’t even go in his face.”

Referee Marc Davis gave Paul the technical foul.

“He called a tech on me too in New Orleans,” Paul continued. “You know how long timeouts and you walk on the other side of the court? It was like a minute and a half in the timeout and he talked a tech because I walked on the other side of the court.”

Mikal Bridges was also hit with a technical with 1:27 left in the second quarter.

“It’s one of those deals where it’s a chippy, physical game,” Williams said. “Maybe that had something to do with it.”

In turn, Dallas didn’t draw any technical fouls in the game and only committed one turnover in the first half that didn’t result in any points for Phoenix.

Follow Duane Rankin on Twitter @DuaneRankin.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Mavericks beat Suns in Game 3 to even series at 2-2

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