Suns push Mavs to brink of elimination, 102-91

Posted at: 04/10/2013 11:35 PM
By SCHUYLER DIXON

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(AP) DALLAS - P.J. Tucker scored 17 points, including two key baskets in the closing minutes, and the Phoenix Suns pushed the Dallas Mavericks to the brink of playoff elimination for the first time since 2000 with a 102-91 victory Wednesday night.

The Suns blew a 14-point lead in the second quarter and almost did it again in the fourth before hanging on to snap a 10-game losing streak that was their longest in 16 years.

The loss meant a 12-season streak of playoff trips for the Mavericks (38-40) could officially end with a win by the Los Angeles Lakers, who played at Portland later Wednesday.

The Suns, who led 85-71 early in the fourth, were up just four when Tucker put in a layup for a six-point lead after a shot by Luis Scola barely touched the rim as the shot clock expired.

Tucker, who also had 10 rebounds, grabbed a miss by O.J. Mayo on the other end, then hit a 3-pointer for a 98-89 lead with 1:01 remaining. Tucker, a 26 percent shooter from long range this season, was 3 of 4 from beyond the arc.

Goran Dragic led the Suns with 21 points and 13 assists, while Scola had 11 points and a season-high 15 rebounds.

Shawn Marion led the Mavericks with 22 points and nine rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points and Vince Carter had 18.

Phoenix took the lead for good with an 18-4 run in the third quarter. Dragic started it with a 3-pointer to break a 63-all tie, then had assists on a layup by Tucker and a 3-pointer from Markieff Morris.

The Mavericks went almost 5 minutes without a basket in the third quarter and another 4 minutes to start the fourth before Mayo hit a long jumper, but Phoenix pushed the lead back to 12 with help from free throws by Dragic after Mayo was called for a flagrant foul for throwing his shoulder into the Suns guard when he was driving.

The Suns led 51-41 at halftime after being up by 14 in the first quarter, but Dallas started the second half with a 12-2 run to get even.

Wesley Johnson scored 15 points in the second quarter to help the Suns rebuild a double-digit lead they lost when Carter sparked a 12-0 Dallas run with a one-handed dunk off a miss by Nowitzki, who was 0 of 5 in the first quarter and took some practice shots before going to the bench at the end of the period.

Johnson was 3 of 4 from 3-point range and the Suns, 29th in the NBA in 3-point shooting at 33 percent coming in, were 6 of 9 from beyond the arc in the second quarter.

Dragic had 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the first quarter to build the Phoenix lead, and the Suns’ starting backcourt of Dragic and Johnson outscored Dallas starters Mike James and Mayo 33-8 in the first half, which ended with Phoenix leading 61-51.

NOTES: Dallas coach Rick Carlisle got a first-quarter technical when C Chris Kaman was called for a foul after knocking over Dragic at midcourt when a dribbling Dragic stopped in front of him. Carlisle stepped onto the court to complain about the call, drawing a puzzled look from Dragic. ... Mavericks C Elton Brand missed his fourth straight game with a sore right calf, and Suns F Michael Beasley missed his second straight for the birth of his daughter in Phoenix. ... There was a brief delay in the fourth quarter when the scoreboards, game clocks and shot clocks went blank or reset. Turned out there was 4:20 remaining.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)