LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Devin Booker scored 28 points and Chris Paul added 20 points and 11 assists as Phoenix beat the Dallas Mavericks 109-101 on Thursday in a see-saw battle that saw the Suns improve their NBA-leading record.
Phoenix closed strong to win their fifth game in a row ˗ all on the road ˗ halting the Mavericks’ winning streak at four.
Luka Doncic, coming off a 41-point performance in a win over Toronto on Wednesday, scored 28 points with eight rebounds and eight assists for Dallas. Jalen Brunson scored 19 and Kristaps Porzingis chipped in 18 points and 11 rebounds.
The Suns, playing their second straight game without injured starting center Deandre Ayton, trailed 53-45 at halftime and by as many as 12 in the third quarter.
A 12-2 spurt in the third saw the Suns take the lead on Booker’s layup, but the Mavs hit back to lead by eight going into the final frame.
Phoenix wouldn’t go away, however, and Mikel Bridge’s floater put the Suns up 101-99 with 2:56 to play.
Bismack Biyombo ˗ who joined the Suns this month ˗ had a free throw and a dunk to push the lead to five points and Paul drained a three-pointer with 26.1sec remaining to make it 107-99.
Phoenix out-scored the Mavs 35-19 in the fourth quarter. Booker said it was “just experience” that allowed the Suns ˗ who fell to the Milwaukee Bucks in last season’s Finals ˗ to keep coming up big when it matters.
“I think our playoff run last year helped our chemistry moving forward,” Booker told broadcaster TNT. “So we’re never fazed in those situations. We hang our hat on defense end and try to make it tough on other teams and it usually works out.”
At 35-9, the Suns are the only remaining team with single-digit defeats this season.
The defeat dropped Dallas to 26-20 on the season, though with 10 wins in their last 12 games they remain fifth in the Western Conference.
They’ll be hoping there is no lasting damage to Doncic after a hard fall late in the third quarter left him feeling apparent discomfort in the back of his neck. The Slovenian star has already missed 15 games this season with knee and ankle injuries.
Elsewhere, Jonas Valanciunas scored 18 points with 10 rebounds to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a 102-91 victory over the Knicks in New York.
The Pelicans led by as many as 25 as the Knicks lost their third straight game at Madison Square Garden and fell to 11th in the East, one game outside the final play-in tournament berth.
RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson scored 17 points apiece for the Knicks, but forward Julis Randle was held to four points and fellow starters Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker combined to score just 11.