Dallas Mavericks bounceback, reduce Phoenix Suns’ lead at 2-1 but realize they are not satisfied.

DALLAS — Mavericks superstar Luka DoncicHe felt he let his teammates down by his “horrible” defense effort in the second half of Game 2 defeat to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Phoenix Suns. His backcourt partner Jalen BrunsonHis performance during the 0-2 trip in Phoenix was summarized by one word: “Terrible.”

They arrived together at the American Airlines Center determined to make Game 3 different. The Suns star was spoilt by the duo. Chris PaulHis 37th birthday, and his contribution to Dallas' 103-94 victory to make the Mavericks reach the Western Conference semifinals.

Brunson had a game-high 28 point performance, six more than the Mavericks combined in the previous two series. This kept the Mavericks in control while Doncic was in foul trouble for much of the second period. Doncic ended with 26 points, 13 boards, nine assists, and two steals.

Jason Kidd, Dallas coach said that everyone joined the party. This was in reference to his comments after Game 1, when Doncic wasn't getting much support. They helped on both sides. Luka was a great defensive player. He was also involved. We are in a completely different place when that happens.”

The Suns' All Star backcourt of Paul was significantly outplayed by the Mavericks' guards. Devin BookerThey combined for seven more turnovers than they made field goals (11). The dozen turnovers were their most in any game during their two seasons as teammates, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

This was in stark contrast to Phoenix's Suns guards dominance in the first two games.

Booker had 18 points, shooting 6-of-13. You can credit them. They were determined and worked hard. That was it. “We have a series.”

Paul made seven turnovers, one less than his playoff record, and was held to 12 points, four assists, and twelve points. Paul scored 14 points in the fourth quarter of Game 2's rout. He was relentlessly hunting for and exploiting Doncic's switches.

Paul stated, “They came out to do what they were supposed to do.” “We'll return on Sunday.”

Forward Reggie Bullock Dorian Finney-SmithDallas' effort at that end of court was led by, who were respectively the primary defenders for Paul and Booker. The Mavs also made some structural changes, including double-teaming Booker more often as well as mixing in some zones. Doncic's dramatically improved effort came just hours after Kidd had publicly asked him to participate in defense.

Finney-Smith stated that he was jumping on the floor during his first or second possession. “Seeing the best player doing this kind of sets the mood.”

Doncic downplayed criticisms from his coach and teammates about his Game 2 defense as a motivating factor. He was the one who took the brunt for Dallas' defensive problems that night.

Doncic stated that he knew he had to do better. He is currently averaging 35.3 points and 10.0 rebounds per game, as well as 8.0 assists. “I knew I could be better. I feel like I made a significant leap in defense this year. I felt terrible during the second half of Game 2. I knew I had a lot to do to improve my defense.

Brunson was a breakout star in round one, scoring an average of 27.8 points per match in six games win over the opponents. Utah JazzHowever, he was a non-factor in both the Phoenix and Phoenix games. He was in foul trouble early in both games. This is part of why he couldn’t find his rhythm and shot only 32.1% from floor.

Kidd stated, “I wanted him to be aggressive.” “We spoke before the game. Just be yourself. He was very aggressive for the first time, I think. He did not wait. He was not surveying.”

Brunson kept his attack mode going despite missing the first three shots. He ended the first quarter with 10 on 4-of-7 shooting. Doncic was forced to miss the final 15 minutes of the game due to foul trouble. Brunson had another 10-point quarter for the third.

Brunson stated that she felt like Brunson was playing with more energy, getting to the spots faster and making decisions quicker. I was just aggressive and made decisions. My teammates gave me the confidence to play and I just kept doing it. … “I found a way to bounceback tonight, but this is not enough for me.”

The win ended an 11-game losing streak by the Mavs against the Suns dating back to November 2019, a drought Dallas' players had deliberately avoided discussing in this series.

Doncic stated, “We're going believe until the end.” “Somebody must get to four wins. No matter what your level of success, you have to believe.”

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