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Suns 102, Mavericks 91

The SportsXchange

DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks haven't had a season like this in 12 years. Wednesday night hit a new low.

Not only did the worst team in the Western Conference snap a 10-game losing streak with a 102-91 victory at American Airlines Center, but the Phoenix Suns snuffed out any lingering playoff hopes Dallas might have clung to.

The Mavericks came into the contest after a two-day break with a mathematical chance -- albeit a slight one -- of chasing down the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz for the eighth spot. Instead of dominating the Suns, who were on the second night of a back-to-back, Dallas laid an egg.

"You can't control the ball going into the hoop, but you can control your effort," Shawn Marion said. "When you're not able to go out there and give it your all and give 110 percent, then something's wrong and maybe you need to sit down. There is no reason we should have lost this game tonight."

Barring a monumental collapse by both the Lakers and Jazz, the Mavericks (38-40) will have their streak of playoff appearances end at 12 consecutive years. While plenty of losses have hurt this season, few are as painful as Wednesday.

"It's disappointing because it was just another opportunity lost to get back to even as far as our record," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "We're just not good enough from start to finish. ... Here's where we are at: we've got four games left, and we've got to stay in this thing and keep battling."

Dallas spent much of the game battling back from double-digit deficits against a squad in the midst of one of the poorest seasons in franchise history. Other than a few short stretches, the Suns were in complete control against a team that had won the previous three meetings this season.

The Suns were also dealing with the aftermath of Tuesday's heartbreaking loss at Houston on a goal-tended 3-pointer.

"It was important for our guys to feel good," Phoenix coach Lindsey Hunter said. "And we played a really good game last night, unfortunately we couldn't win it. We lost it in a very peculiar way. I've never lost a game like that in my life, so that was a first.

"But tonight I think the guys responded really well in the back-to-back, and [the Mavericks are] a pretty good team out there fighting for a playoff spot possibly and our guys responded and played well."

Goran Dragic scored 22 and dished out 17 assists to pace the Suns, who improved to 24-55. Luis Scola set a season high with 15 rebounds and Jermaine O'Neal blocked seven shots. P.J. Tucker scored 17 points, including a burst of five straight after Dallas pulled within four points in the last two minutes.

"We moved the ball really well," Hunter said. "We shared the ball. We made the right play. Wes Johnson was phenomenal in the first half. Jared Dudley came off the bench and did a great job. P.J. was extraordinary tonight. I think it's the first time he's hit 3 threes since we've been here. Defensively, he was excellent. Everybody played well that played."

Marion scored 22 for Dallas. Dirk Nowitzki added 21, but shot just 6 of 18. The Mavericks shot just 40 percent and had just one player (Vince Carter) in double figures.

The Mavericks opened the second half with a 12-2 run to knot the game at 63-all. Dragic answered with a 3-pointer and the Suns reeled off a 12-0 spurt, and carried a 10-point lead (81-71) into the fourth.

The Phoenix backcourt of Dragic and Wesley Johnson had their way with the Mavericks throughout the first half. The duo combined for 33 points on 13 of 17 shooting as the Suns took a 61-51 lead into the break.

The Mavericks came out sleepwalking, falling behind 28-14 before getting back in the game. Nowitzki and Carter spurred a 22-7 run to give Dallas a momentary lead.

Hunter went back to his starters and the Mavericks were quickly back in the hole. The Suns shot 52 percent from the floor in the half, including 9 of 16 (56 percent) from beyond the arc.

NOTES: Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki was back in the lineup after missing the fourth quarter of Sunday's win at Portland with a left foot injury. Nowitzki came into the game 53 points shy of being the 17th player in NBA history to reach 25,000 career points. ... The Suns' last win in Dallas was more than six years ago: March 14, 2007, a span of 11 straight losses. ... Phoenix forward Michael Beasley missed a second game since the birth of his daughter. ... Dallas forward Elton Brand (calf) was out for the fourth straight game, despite hope that he would return against Phoenix. ... The Mavericks haven't been at the .500 mark since being 11-11 in mid-December.
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