Mavericks-Suns Preview

The Associated Press

While the Phoenix Suns used a strong finish to capture the opener of a set of back-to-back games, the Dallas Mavericks endured a collapse.

At least the Mavericks have proved to be resilient in the second half of back-to-back contests while the Suns haven't.

Every game is critical in the Western Conference playoff race, and the visiting Mavericks have won 11 of the last 13 meetings heading into this one Saturday night.

Phoenix (15-10) trailed by as many as 21 points and Dallas (15-11) led by 19 on Friday in contests that served as a reminder of how anything can happen in the NBA.

The Suns were behind 60-39 in the first half at Denver before rallying for a 103-99 victory. They chipped away and tied the contest with 8:21 left before making some critical plays down the stretch for their sixth win in seven games.

Markieff Morris scored 25 points, Gerald Green added 19 and Goran Dragic came through with six of his 17 points in the final 3:46.

"We never quit. We came out and fought all the way to the end," Morris said. "It's a great feeling, man."

While Phoenix was enjoying the thrill of victory, Dallas was suffering through the agony of defeat in a 109-108 overtime home loss to Toronto.

The Mavericks built their largest lead with 8:34 left in the first half only to see the margin cut to three at the break.

"When you've controlled the game midway through the second (period) or whatever it was and you give up control that quickly, you give the other team too much confidence and you bring too many other things into the equation," coach Rick Carlisle said.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 22 points but missed his final six shots from the field. The Mavericks misfired on their last four shots.

Dallas finished with 17 total turnovers that led to 32 points for the Raptors.

"Bad offense, bad mistakes led to catastrophic plays that are unguardable," Carlisle said. "It's a recipe for failure, turning it over that much and having them get that many points off of turns."

One positive for Dallas is its 4-3 mark in the second half of back-to-back games. Phoenix is 1-4 in such contests, winning 97-88 at Houston on Dec. 4, the last time it was in this situation.

The Suns moved one-half game ahead of the Mavs on Friday, but staying in front would require a second victory in the last seven home meetings.

Phoenix is shooting 44.0 percent from beyond the arc in the last four games, and Green made six of the club's 12 3-pointers Friday. The Suns took excellent care of the ball with 11 turnovers and overcame a 52-40 deficit in points in the paint.

"We're winning some games against some good teams and that's giving them confidence and helping to speed up the process a little bit," coach Jeff Hornacek said.

Dallas also had a shooter who was on target from long range Friday. Jose Calderon matched a career high with seven 3-pointers and scored a season-high 23 points.

The Mavs are starting a stretch in which they play five of six on the road where they are 4-8. The Suns are 8-4 at home.

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