Suns fall down rabbit hole in Game 3 loss to desperate Mavericks

DALLAS — There’s a rabbit hole on Planet Orange. The deeper you dig, the more you learn that NBA officials are to blame for almost everything.

The Suns had a bigger problem Friday night in Dallas, where they met the “Big D.”


“Bottom line, you have to give them credit,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said.

The Mavericks won Game 3 because they played like an angry team that was completely embarrassed in Game 2. Their role players showed up. Jalen Brunson was an impact performer, leading all scorers with 28 points. And they continue to play well for long minutes without Luka Doncic, who struggled with foul trouble for most of the second half.

All of this was to be expected.

What made this game so frustrating was that the Suns made some unusual mistakes. On his 37th birthday, Chris Paul had six turnovers in the first 16 minutes. Mikal Bridges was slapped with a technical foul. The Suns missed a ton of easy shots around the basket. They returned the ball 17 times. They allowed the Mavericks 14 more field goal attempts.

It’s a recipe for disaster, and it’s what the Suns won on Friday.

“When you see us at 94 points and 23 assists, it’s just not a typical game for us,” Williams said.

As frustration mounted, the Suns also got lost down that rabbit hole, leaving erratic garden variety umpires to get under their skin. There was a play when Dorian Finney-Smith emptied a wide-open board as Paul and Devin Booker argued with an official following a questionable out-of-bounds call.

No matter the circumstances, it just can’t happen. Not in a playoff game.

“We never really adapted to calls either,” Paul said. “That’s not why we lost. But we never really adapted to it. »

Paul took a heavy pile of blame after the game. His turnovers were shocking and came in bunches. He swore they would be better on Sunday. Surely the whole band needs to be stoic and louder between the ears, playing through and beyond any perceived injustices.

“I thought we could have settled in a bit more,” Williams said.

There is no reason to worry. The Suns earned the right to lose Friday’s game. And everything about their performance seemed out of sync. Bridges led the team in field goal attempts (14). Jae Crowder led the team in scoring (19 points). Paul had seven turnovers and only four assists. Booker added five turnovers, and that’s a staggering combined total from a pair of All-Stars.

Bottom line: Nothing came easy and nothing felt right. Except for the result.

“If I don’t return the ball like that, I feel like it’s a different game,” Paul said.

Maybe, maybe not. Remember, it’s impossible to manufacture desperation, which is the great equalizer in professional sports, which the Mavericks had in abundance on Friday. As a result, they took a stand. An affair without a future. But nothing in their performance changes the calculation:

The Suns are the best team that spent most of Friday night restless and out of rhythm. They made it easy for Dallas to host its own house party. After the game, Booker proclaimed that “people want to see more basketball games.” He also prematurely said that “we have a series”. You can read between the lines all you want, but if we’ve learned anything about these Suns, it’s that they’re extremely bad losers. And after scoring 94 points in a lopsided loss, it’s the team that’s feeling the sting of embarrassment.

Chances are the Mavericks will see a very different opponent on Sunday. And if history is our guide, someone will pay the price.

Contact Bickley at [email protected] Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Arizona’s sports station 98.7 FM.

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Raymond I. Langston