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  • Benjamin Gerstel

Suns gets a heavy push by superstar in a win against Dallas

Superstars Luka Doncic and Devin Booker both went head-to-head in the first half. Both are coming off 40-point performances in their last game, (Booker-48/Doncic-41) sending a message to the rest of the league. It’s no surprise that they started off the first half firing the way they did tonight.

Booker did his thing for Phoenix, getting buckets in all sorts of fashions. Even though he shot 1 of 6 from three, he still managed to score 16 points in the first half. By getting creative, and attacking the rim, he was able to overcome his poor, early shooting performance. Hall-of-fame point guard Chris Paul, also paced Phoenix, like he does so well. His six assists lead the first half, as well as hit some big shots, with his lethal elbow jumper. While Phoenix’s bigs also struggled to make an impact in the first half, it was Cameron Johnson who stepped up, grabbing 5 boards and piling in five of his own points. Considering Phoenix shot a horrible 2-19, being down eight in the first half wasn’t the end of the world. It was impressive the way they fought.

Doncic had 19, going off in the first half. He was able to get to the rim, as well as pick apart Phoenix’s defense. He completely took over for Dallas, and gave them all the momentum in the world heading into the second half. He bullied Cam Johnson in the paint, and then topped it off with a steal and transition three at the buzzer. American Airlines Center was rocking, as Luka sprinted straight into the locker room, with a huge smile on his face. Fellow European Kristaps Porzingiz, was also a difference-maker, with his game-leading 7 rebounds, and 13 points in the first half.

Dallas continued to play off of each other in the second half. They opened the third quarter with plays like a Maxwell Kleber alley-oop from Porzingis, and Luka with his hookshot in the paint, after he backed down his matchup. As Luka exposed the paint himself, he allowed his team to space the floor more. Phoenix was also without Deandre Ayton, who they certainly missed. While Luka continued to mesh Dallas, Devin Booker did his best to chip away at their lead. By the third quarter, he had 20 points. With the help of back-to-back threes from Jae Crowder, and a smooth baseline floater, Booker and Crowder led Phoenix on a 12-2 run (4 minutes left in third), giving them a one-point advantage. You could tell they were trying to humble Luka, checking him off of every switch, in order to force him to give the ball up. CP3 stripped him as well, which led to a transition dunk from Miles Bridges. This type of menacing defense worked, and Phoenix was able to turn it into a good offense.

Dallas responded, with an 11-2 run, giving them an eight point lead by the end of the third. Second chance-points opportunities were huge. They outrebounded Phoenix by 15, and every single starter had at least one offensive rebound (Phoenix only had one). Dwight Powell has been fantastic all night off the bench as an interior force as well. Dallas also had help from Jalen Brunson (17, 5 reb), Porzingis (15, 9 reb), and Tim Hardaway Jr. (p, 5 reb). This game certainly had a playoff feel, with multiple guys stepping up for each team. The game also had 13 lead changes, showing how close and entertaining it really was.

Both teams went back and forth in the fourth, with Dallas owning the paint and Phoenix moving the ball to find their shots. Jae Crowder and Cameron Payne were huge for Phoenix, while Chris Paul led the offense in the fourth quarter. The legendary point guard had 20-11-5, on 8-14 shooting.

In crunch time, Bismack Biyombo was able to transform into a force to be reckoned with. Phoenix struggled to not only make threes, but make as much of an impact as Dallas in the paint as well. Biyombo down the stretch, had 9 points and four rebounds. Despite an ineffective performance in the first, the veteran big-man was still able to try and make up for Ayton’s absence. Biyombo gave Phoenix an invaluable shift in momentum that wasn’t really witnessed since halftime. He also helped put pressure on Dallas's interior, which they lacked all game. Chris Paul hit the dagger three, capping off a 20-4 run for Phoenix. The Suns won the game, 109-101.

It was an amazing performance for the Suns, and you have to give them credit for fighting through an abysmal 20% performance from behind the arc. Dallas deserves their roses too, and should be proud about how they performed against the best team in the NBA. Phoenix’s win tonight makes them 35-9, which ties for second as their best start in franchise history, through the first 44 games. In incredible fashion, they made this mark off of the last leg of a five game road trip, and they have now swept all five games. Dallas is now 26-20, snapping a four game win streak of their own.

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