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The Dallas Mavericks, at least for the first half on Tuesday night at the Footprint Center, looked ready to win a third straight game in their series against the Phoenix Suns.
Those hopes, however, disappeared almost instantly after a disastrous third quarter.
The Suns flew ahead in the second half to take a 110-80 win in Game 5 of their Western Conference semifinals series on Tuesday. Phoenix now holds a 3-2 series lead and is one game away from advancing to the Western Conference finals for a second straight year.
The Mavericks came out hot after back-to-back wins to tie the series up, and dropped six of their first eight shots to take an early 15-9 lead. The Suns slowly chipped away at that early lead, however, and took a three-point lead at the break after ending the half on a 19-8 run — which marked their first lead since their first bucket of the game.
Whatever slow start the Suns had was long gone after the break. They mounted a massive 19-4 run and held Dallas scoreless for more than five minutes to take an 18-point lead. Almost instantly, the Suns were in full control.
By the end of the period, the game looked about wrapped up. Phoenix outscored the Mavericks 33-14 in the third period alone, and took a 22-point lead into the fourth quarter. Dallas had 12 turnovers in the third quarter but made just six field goals which, obviously, is a terrible combination. Those turnovers were the most a team has committed in a single quarter in the playoffs since 2012, too.
“I think we relaxed,” Doncic said, via ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “That wasn’t us. That wasn’t ourselves. We’ve got to be way better than that.”
Phoenix cruised to the 30-point win in the fourth without any issue.
Luka Doncic led the Mavericks with 28 points and 11 rebounds, and Jalen Brunson dropped 21 points. Those two and Davis Bertans, who added 10 points off the bench, were the only Mavericks players to score in double figures. The team finished with 16 turnovers on the night, and shot just 38% from the field.
Devin Booker led Phoenix with 28 points and seven rebounds while shooting 11-of-20 from the field. Deandre Ayton added 20 points and nine rebounds, and Mikal Bridges added 14 points. Chris Paul, who fouled out early in a contentious Game 4 in Dallas, finished with seven points and 10 assists.
Game 6 of the series is scheduled for Thursday night in Dallas.