Chris Paul And Devin Booker Took Over In The Second Half To Give The Suns A 2-0 Lead On Dallas

The first half of Game 2 between the Suns and Mavs in Phoenix was a highly competitive, somewhat choppy affair that saw a ton of fouls called, some terrific shot-making from both teams, and ultimately Dallas taking a two-point lead into the break.

Luka Doncic led the way in the first half with 24 points, getting to his spot over and over and giving Phoenix all they could handle defensively.

However, Phoenix seemed content to make Doncic work for his buckets early, employing something of a basketball rope-a-dope on the young superstar, successfully gassing him out for the second half where they targeted him relentlessly on the defensive end. Doncic finished with 35 points and seven assists, but for every positive on the offensive end, he gave it back on defense as Chris Paul decided he’d use the second half to hunt Doncic to tremendous success.

Paul and Devin Booker combined for 41 points in the second half, absolutely eviscerating the Mavs defense as they took a 6-point lead into the fourth quarter and ran away quickly, starting with Paul and ending with Booker in an absolute masterclass of how to close out a game.

The Suns have been the best fourth quarter team in the NBA all season, and their Game 2 performance might just have been their masterpiece. Paul and Booker took turns burying the Mavs, and midway through the period there was no longer any fight left in Dallas, who emptied the bench with five minutes to play, turning their attention to Game 3 in what became a 129-109 Suns victory.

Paul and Booker finished the game with 58 combined points on 22-of-39 shooting (6-of-10 from three), picking apart the Mavs in a totally different way than they did in the opener. Deandre Ayton was quiet, with nine points and three rebounds, playing just 18 minutes due to foul trouble, but JaVale McGee and Bismack Biyombo stepped in and kept the train rolling right down the tracks. Eight Suns finished with nine or more points, and as a team they shot 64.5 percent from the field and 52 percent from three, as Dallas’ defense has provided almost no resistance for Phoenix through two games of this series.

That will be where Dallas has to figure something out, because the Suns are more than happy to let Doncic cook early, knowing they don’t have anyone else who can create and, eventually, he’ll start slowing down and be less efficient. That was the case in Game 2 and has become the book on him since the Clippers employed it successfully the last couple of years. Jalen Brunson has yet to have any positive impact offensively after a huge series against Utah, as Phoenix’s length seems to be bothering him on the perimeter, and Spencer Dinwiddie likewise continues to struggle. The Mavs were banking on those two being able to do what Kristaps Porzingis couldn’t in the past, which is alleviate the creative pressure off of Doncic, but for now, they’ve yet to compel the Suns to change up their gameplan.

Game 3 sends the series back to Dallas, where the Mavs will hope the “others” can find their stroke, because they are desperate for someone other than Doncic to step up — and also need their star to put together four quarters if they’re to have a chance at making this a series.