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Mavericks blow big lead but rally to edge Suns

The SportsXchange

PHOENIX -- It was "Guaranteed Fun Night" night at US Airways Center, and the Phoenix Suns succeeded in making things exciting down to the final seconds Thursday.

Lately, though, the only guarantee is a Suns loss.

The Dallas Mavericks blew a 15-point, third-quarter lead but held on to hand the Suns their fifth straight defeat, 97-94.

Dallas guard O.J. Mayo, who was courted by Phoenix as a free agent this summer but wasn't guaranteed a starting position, burned the Suns for 23 points. He gave the Mavericks the lead for good on a 17-foot jumper over Phoenix's Sebastian Telfair with 34.6 seconds left.

"I wanted to get into an open area around the foul line where I could elevate over 'Bassie,' who is good with his hands and feet, and it went down," Mayo said. "We had a tough game last night (a 112-90 loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles) and we didn't play well, but we flushed that and came with a lot of energy."

Markeiff Morris had 15 points and a career-high 17 rebounds for Phoenix, and his 3-pointer with 1:05 left pulled the Suns within 87-85. Suns guard Shannon Brown tied the game at 87 on two free throws with 48.7 remaining before Mayo drilled his shot to put Dallas back in front.

Goran Dragic missed a layup and a chance to tie the game on Phoenix's next possession, and Dallas hit eight free throws down the stretch -- four each by Darren Collison and Vince Carter -- to win.

"It's a tough loss and always the same story," Dragic said. "They make a great run in the third quarter, and we're trying to get back in the game, and we do, and Mayo makes that great shot. It's tough."

Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry applauded his team for coming back, but "we had a layup to tie the game, and we have to get it in the basket. The same thing happened in Toronto, same thing happened in Philly. We had a chance in Memphis (during the losing streak). We compete like crazy, but we've got to be a little smarter."

Already without Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas lost veterans Shawn Marion (groin) and Chris Kaman (sprained right ankle) during the game. The Mavericks got 16 points off the bench from Brandan Wright and 16 more from Collison to win for only the second time of their last six games.

"We played one of our strongest-willed games of the year," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "Everyone played with a lot of heart and guts. It was a war of attrition with the injuries and all the stuff going on. Everyone hung in there, and we found a way to win a huge game."

Dragic matched Morris with a team-high 15 points, and Luis Scola added 13 points and nine rebounds off the bench for the Suns.

Phoenix lost reserve forward P.J. Tucker to a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee.

The Suns attracted a season-high crowd of 17,517 -- more than 2,000 over their season average -- to a late Thursday night game by promising fans that didn't have a good time a full refund. The Suns did give a good effort late, cutting a 15-point third-quarter deficit to 83-80 on Brown's basket with 2:21 left to set up the exciting finish.

"You knew they were going to play hard being at home and with the crazy ticket thing. The fans stayed into it, and (Phoenix) made some big shots," Mayo said. "I really wanted to be here (during the free agency period), but business-wise, we couldn't get to an even playing field."

NOTES: Carlisle continued to tinker with his starting lineup, going with Dahntay Jones for the second time this season and Elton Brand over Kaman. Mayo, who has started all 19 games, is the only Maverick to start more than 14 times. ... The Suns came into the game ranked last in the NBA in defense, allowing 102.9 points per game and 108 a game during their losing streak. ... Nowitzki was with the team but does not expect to make his return from knee surgery before Christmas. ... The Suns were away from US Airways Center for 13 days prior to Thursday, their longest stretch between home games this season. ... Telfair returned to the team after missing Tuesday's loss in Memphis because of the death of his father. He scored seven points in 19 minutes.

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