By Art Garcia, The Sports Xchange
DALLAS — Asked during a timeout if he wanted a screen on what was going to be the final shot of regulation, Devin Booker declined.
He carried the Phoenix Suns to that point, so why not finish the job himself?
Booker drilled a turnaround jumper at the buzzer over Wesley Matthews to lift the Phoenix Suns to an unlikely 100-98 victory over the streaking Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night at American Airlines Center.
Matthews fouled Booker with 10 seconds left — a call the Mavs weren’t too happy with — to set up the final possession. Had the whistle not blown, the Suns would have needed to take a shot with about 5 seconds remaining.
Instead, Phoenix was able to hold for the last shot. Suns coach Earl Watson deferred to Booker on the final play.
“I just went with an isolation,” said Booker, who made the difference-making basket from the top of the key. “With Wesley being one of the better defenders I knew it was going to be a tough, and I shot a little fadeaway over him.”
The Suns (22-44) finished with an 8-2 kick to snap a two-game slide. Booker scored all eight points to finish with a game-high 36 on 12-of-20 shooting.
“Dominant performance throughout the whole game, especially down the stretch,” Watson said. “Wesley Matthews is one of the best on-ball defenders in our league. We recognize that and respect that. Devin just played at another level. What more can you say?
“He’s 20 years old with two game-winners this year. He basically told us the play he wanted, which was from the top of the key to take the last shot. He was confident that it would go in. The kid is going to be pretty special.”
Booker is the only player in the league with two buzzer beaters this season, having beaten the Sacramento Kings at the final horn last month.
For the Mavericks, it was a bitter pill to swallow in their season-ending playoff push. Dallas saw its season high-tying four-game winning streak halted.
Those first four wins came on a this homestand. The fifth seemed in the Mavs’ sights with a 96-92 lead after Devin Harris’ 3-pointer with two minutes left.
But that only set up Booker’s final flurry.
“You know, that’s on me,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “Clearly we should have gone and double teamed the guy the whole fourth quarter. That’s my fault, I’m taking full responsibility for this whole thing, and next year when we play these guys again we’ll have to consider double teaming him earlier in the game.”
T.J. Warren added 16 points for the Suns, who were without starting center Alex Len. Eric Bledsoe added 12 points and Alan Williams scored 10 off the bench.
Dirk Nowitzki and Harrison Barnes led the Mavs with 23 points apiece. Harris had 14 points off the bench and Yogi Ferrell scored 13. Nowitzki had a game-high 11 rebounds for his seventh double-double.
Dallas (28-37) rallied from a 77-72 deficit early in the fourth quarter with a 14-4 run, but could never get any separation. The Suns stayed close throughout behind Booker and Warren.
“Well, it’s sad to get one and throw it away,” Carlisle said. “We couldn’t close it. We worked hard to get a (96-92) lead toward the end, two minutes to go you have to bear down and get stops, but Booker just would break through us three or four times.”
The Mavs shot only 37.8 percent. Phoenix held a 38-20 edge in points in the paint.
Nowitzki started fast, scoring Dallas’ first nine points and 11 of 13. He went into halftime with 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting and eight boards, and the Mavs were up 47-45.
Booker scored 11 and Warren had 10 points at the break. The Suns were down despite holding Dallas to 38.9 percent shooting.
The Mavs embark on a four-game road trip starting Monday north of the border in Toronto. It’s a critical trek for Dallas, which has lost its last four on the road and is only 8-22 away.
Phoenix returns home for a Sunday game against Portland.