By Jerry BrownThe Sports Xchange
With his team down 12 points after three quarters, Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker tried to rally his team in the fourth quarter and beat the Dallas Mavericks all by himself.
It almost worked.
Booker scored 29 of the Suns’ 32 points in the fourth quarter, including Phoenix’s final 21 points of the game, but the Mavericks got 23 points and 15 assists from Deron Williams and 22 points from Harrison Barnes to hang on for a 113-108 win over the Suns in Mexico City on Thursday.
It’s just third time that Williams and Barnes have scored at least 20 points in the same game this season. Dallas (12-27) is 3-0 in those games and this win moved them into a tie with the Suns in the basement of the Western Conference.
Dirk Nowitzki and Wes Matthews added 18 points each for the Mavericks, who pulled away with an 18-4 run to begin the second half and avenged a loss to the Suns seven days ago in Dallas.
The Mavericks had four players scored at least 18 points in a game for the first time and won in front of a large and appreciative crowd at the Arena Ciudad de Mexico.
“I thought it was a great game and a great atmosphere in the arena,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “Devin Booker is a great young scorer and he was a handful to deal with. We were fortunate to get out of here alive, but we had some guys step up and play well — Barnes, Nowitzki, Williams and Matthews all played huge games.”
Booker tied a career high with 39 points on 14-for-20 shooting and hit six of his seven 3-pointer for the Suns (12-27), with two free throws getting Phoenix to within 105-99 with 2:10 left. He was the only Suns player to score in the final seven minutes of play.
But that’s as close as Phoenix got. Nowitzki nailed his third 3-pointer of the game with 1:55 left and Seth Curry put the game away with a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock to give Dallas a 111-101 lead.
“We were sitting on a three-game losing streak and Phoenix had just beaten us at home, so that was a good win for us,” Nowitzki said.
Tyson Chandler had 14 points and 19 rebounds for the Suns and Marquese Chriss had 13 points, all in the first half. Eric Bledsoe had 11 points but took only four shots and was hampered by foul trouble.
“Defensively, we played poor,” Phoenix coach Earl Watson said. “We can score with anyone, we know that. But defense is the key. They shot 48 percent (from the field) and 44 from 3-point and that’s too high.”
Booker said he felt energized by the crowd and by the opportunity to play before the Mexican fans.
“There were probably a lot of people here who have never seen an NBA game live and we got to give that to them tonight,” Booker said. “We’re breaking down barriers and crossing borders and having fun with the game, which is a world-wide sport.”
The first half featured 11 ties, 15 lead changes and hot-shooting first quarters by both teams.
Dallas hit nine of its first 10 shots from the field, and nine straight points from Curry, including back-to-back 3-pointers, helped the Mavericks to a 24-17 lead.
But the Suns hit five of eight 3-pointers in the quarter, including three by Chriss, who had 11 of his points in the quarter. Nowitzki’s first basket of the game gave Dallas a 32-29 lead after one.
Bledsoe scored seven of his 11 second-quarter points from the free-throw line, but the Suns couldn’t open a lead bigger than four points. Williams and Barnes combined for 28 points but Phoenix led 59-57 at the half.
The Mavericks opened the third quarter with eight straight points and took their biggest lead at 76-63 when Matthews capped the run with a 3-pointer to make is 76-63 with 7:24 left.
“Coming out of halftime, we wanted to be the team to punch them in the face but they did it to us first,” Booker said. “They had a big run and we had an uphill battle the rest of the way.”
The Suns were unable to cut into the lead until Booker made his one-man run at the end.