Home Cooking: Suns Roll in Game 5

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

There’s no place like home.

Tuesday night the Phoenix Suns appeared quite comfortable being back on Planet Orange, blowing out the Dallas Mavericks 110-80 at Footprint Center to take a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven series.

“We had a great deal of focus on the game plan, personnel, and rebounding,” Phoenix head coach Monty Williams said after the game. “Defense is the backbone of our program, one of our pillars…it was the defense [Tuesday]. I firmly believe that defense travels. You can do it any gym.”

Offensively, Devin Booker paced the Suns, scoring 28 on 11-20 shooting. Deandre Ayton added 20, and grabbed 11 rebounds. Mykal Bridges and Cam Johnson each chipped in 14. Chris Paul dished out a game-high 10 assists in a game Phoenix blew open in the third quarter.

Much like the last time these two teams met in Phoenix for Game 4, the Mavs and Suns shot well in the opening minutes with Dallas taking a 15-9 lead into the first media timeout behind Luka Doncic’s seven early points on 3-3 shooting from the field.

The guests’ white-hot shooting, and crisp passing, kept Phoenix’s defense scrambling. The Mavs, despite Booker’s monster first quarter (12 points, three rebounds), led 26-23 after the first quarter on 9-17 shooting (4-8 on three-pointers).

Jalen Brunson and Davis Bertans continued their offensive production from Game 4, stretching the Dallas lead to 38-30 midway through the second with Doncic on the bench. 

The Suns would respond and tie the game at 40 on Booker’s baseline drive and dunk in transition with 3:47 to play until halftime as the Mavs’ shooting dipped to 41%. The 10-2 run forced a Jason Kidd timeout to talk things over.

The stingy Mavs kept fighting with Phoenix taking a 49-46 lead into the locker room behind Booker’s team-high 16 points.

One first half bright spot for Phoenix was simply taking care of the basketball. The Suns committed just four turnovers in the first 24 minutes. 

The hosts got off and running to start the second half.

A pair of Ayton put backs and a Booker transition three pushed the lead to 61-50 as Dallas called timeout to try to stop the bleeding. 

No luck.

The Phoenix onslaught would continue and Phoenix led 67-50 when Booker was fouled hard going to the basket by Dorian Finney-Smith. The infraction was upgraded to a flagrant 1 as the physical series continued. 

“We studied film,” Booker said of the ramped up defensive intensity Tuesday. “We pride ourself on the defensive end all year.”

A Johnson fast break alley opp dunk from Bridges punctuated a near perfect third quarter with the Suns outscoring Dallas 33-14 behind Booker and three other double-figure Phoenix scorers (Ayton, Bridges, Johnson). The Phoenix lead swelled to 82-60 heading to the final stanza.

I thought we came out of halftime with a great level of defensive focus,” Williams said.

The Suns maintained a comfortable margin in the fourth before both head coaches emptied their benches in the final five minutes. 

Doncic finished with 28 points, and a game-high 11 rebounds, but struggled from the field shooting 10-23, (2-8 on three’s). Brunson had 21 points, and seven assists as Dallas shot just 38% (27-71) from the field. 

Game 6 in Dallas will tip-off Thursday at 6:30 Arizona time.