Canaan, Suns slip past Mavericks
DALLAS — Newly acquired point guard Isaiah Canaan led the Phoenix Suns back from a double-digit deficit en route to a 97-91 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday.
Phoenix (11-21) scored its second consecutive road win by rallying from a sizable deficit for the second straight game.
Canaan, whose three late free throws squeaked the Suns past Minnesota on Saturday, scored 11 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, including a blow-by underhand floater past Dirk Nowitzki with?1:02?left to put Phoenix up 93-88.
“That was the switch that we wanted. We wanted to get him out on the ball screen and switch it,” Canaan said. “He can’t really move like he used to and I knew I had the advantage on him. Once I got my shoulders down, I knew I could finish at the rim because he is not a shot-blocker. Once I got the switch I wanted, I just attacked it.”
However, it was anything but a smooth closeout for the Suns.
Mavs guard Devin Harris hit a 3-pointer to make 93-91 with 22 seconds to go, and then Wesley Matthews stole the inbounds pass before missing a potential go-ahead 3-point attempt. Phoenix’s Dragan Bender snared the rebound but lost it to Harris, only to have his pass stolen by the Suns’ TJ Warren to end the frenzied possession.
Warren was then fouled, but he made just one of his free throw attempts, giving Dallas a chance to tie with 11.4 seconds left.
Rather than go for a 3-pointer — Dallas was 11 of 37 from behind the arc — Harris opted for a contested floater from a few feet away, but it came up short.
Warren, who finished with a team-high 19 points, made three of four free throws in the final five seconds to seal the victory.
“Once we get the ball in, we survey the court and see if we can get an open 3,” Harris said. “If not, I try to put my head down and at least draw a foul.”
Phoenix trailed 71-59 with 3:29 to go in the third, but a 20-8 run bridging the third and fourth quarters tied it up at 79-79 with 7:29 left in the game.
Then a 10-2 run gave Phoenix its largest lead of the game, 89-81 with 3:44 to go.
“Generally, when we run into problems in the fourth it’s because the ball gets stagnant and we’re not attacking the paint. I’ll have to look at it,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “They played well. You have to give credit to Phoenix. They beat us badly.”
Alex Len joined Canaan with a big night off the bench, scoring 14 points and grabbing 14 rebounds after a 19-rebound effort Saturday. Troy Daniels added 12 points for a Phoenix bench that outscored Dallas’ 55-28.
“Our defense kept us in it again, until we started making some shots,” Suns interim coach Jay Triano said. “That was the key for us. That was the key for us the other night as well. We turned it over too many times, but our defense kept us in. If we can keep playing good defense and making it tough for teams to score, rebounding the ball like we have been, we’ll figure out a way to score eventually.”
Dallas (8-23) added to its season theme of late-game woes while seeing its three-game home win streak end.
Harrison Barnes led five Mavs in double figures with 26 points. Harris finished with 14, Matthews and Yogi Ferrell each had 13, and J.J. Barea added 10.
NOTES: Suns G Devin Booker missed his sixth consecutive game due to a groin injury. He could return next Monday at home against Memphis. ... Phoenix G Troy Daniels left the game in the second quarter after being inadvertently elbowed in the face, but he was able to return in the third quarter. ... Mavs G Dennis Smith Jr. missed his sixth consecutive game with a hip injury. Coach Rick Carlisle said it’s possible Smith will be ready for the Wednesday game against Detroit. ... Dallas F Dirk Nowitzki passed Kobe Bryant (1,827) for 13th on the NBA’s all-time 3-pointers made list and is two away from tying Chauncey Billups for 12th place. ... The Mavs announced they will retire G Derek Harper’s No. 12 on Jan. 7 against New York. Coincidentally, it is the 23rd anniversary of Dallas trading Harper to the Knicks.