Setting the Table: Phoenix Suns (Game 44)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on January 27, 2013 under Previews | Be the First to Comment

8420465038_f572b92d32_z

Before going out on a four-game road trip, the Dallas Mavericks (18-25) look to end their homestand on a good note as they take on the Phoenix Suns (15-29). The Suns come into town on the second night of a back-to-back as they suffered a 108-99 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. The Suns led 88-86 with nine minutes to go in the game, but the Spurs closed the game out with 22-11 run to secure an eight-game winning streak.

With a challenging road trip on the horizon, Dallas needs to handle their business against an inferior Phoenix squad.

Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Suns.

Series Notes:

The Mavericks and the Suns met once in the 2012 preseason (at Dallas on Oct. 17, 2012) and Phoenix recorded a 100-94 win. The Mavericks have taken 9-of-10 and 12 of the last 14 regular-season meetings with the Suns. The Mavericks have won nine straight and 21 of the last 26 matchups with the Suns in Dallas. The Suns have not defeated the Mavericks at American Airlines Center since Mar. 14, 2007, when they recorded a 129-127 double-overtime win.

The Mavericks took the first meeting between the two teams this season, 97-94, at Phoenix on Dec. 6, 2012. O.J. Mayo led Dallas with 23 points, five rebounds and five assists in the win over Phoenix. Darren Collison (16), Brandan Wright (16) and Chris Kaman (15) combined for 47 points off the Mavericks’ bench. Shawn Marion (10) also scored in double figures for Dallas in the win.

Marion scored 29 points against Phoenix on Jan. 23, 2012, which tied his highest scoring game as a Maverick (29 at Minnesota Mar. 8, 2010). Marion will be playing in his 1,000th career regular-season game vs. Phoenix.

Dirk Nowitzki appeared in his 1,000th career regular-season game vs. Phoenix on Jan. 4, 2012. Nowitzki averaged 16.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 33.0 minutes in three games (all starts) against the Suns in 2011-12. Nowitzki (right knee surgery) was unavailable for Dallas in the game against the Suns this season.

It’s a Small World:

Shawn Marion was selected by Phoenix in the first round (ninth overall pick) of the 1999 NBA Draft and played for the Suns from 1999-2008, garnering Western Conference All-Star honors four times (2003, 2005, 2006, 2007). Vince Carter played in 51 games (41 starts) for the Suns during the 2010-11 season, averaging 13.5 points. He was waived by Phoenix and was signed by Dallas. Carter and Suns interim head coach Lindsey Hunter were teammates on the Toronto Raptors in 2002-03.

Suns forward Wesley Johnson is from Corsicana, Texas, and played for the Dallas Mustangs AAU team. Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle coached Suns center Jermaine O’Neal for three seasons in Indiana from 2003-06. Mavericks athletic trainer Casey Smith was formerly the strength and conditioning coach for the Suns.

Three Keys:

1. Hit the ground running. The Mavericks came out flat in the game against the Spurs and paid the price for it. San Antonio used a 20-8 run from the 8:04 mark of the first quarter through the 3:45 mark of the period to turn a one-point deficit into an 11-point advantage. The Spurs then led for the remainder of the contest. You can’t give an inferior team any sign of life when they come into your arena.

2. See which Roddy B shows up. Beaubois scored a season-high 19 points in 16 minutes against San Antonio. His previous high was 11 points in the season opener at the L.A. Lakers. It was his highest scoring game since Mar. 13, 2012 vs. Washington (19 points). It begins and ends with focus and an attacking mindset with Roddy. If he gives it his all and plays with poise, he can be a legitimate threat for the Mavericks. If not, he’ll be the same inconsistent player everyone has seen since he came into the league.

3. Get more from the center position. The Mavericks made a shift by starting Elton Brand against the Spurs. The move worked from a rebounding perspective, but the team was terrible in terms of defense as Tiago Splitter went 5-of-6 from the field and DeJuan Blair went 10-of-13 from the field for a season-high 22 points in 19 minutes to lead seven Spurs in double figures. Bernard James saw his first action in five games against the Spurs. He played 10 minutes in a loss to the Spurs, finishing with four points and three rebounds. He also took over for Chris Kaman as the primary backup center in the second half. It will be interesting to see what happens at that position going forward as it now appears the center position has emerged as the biggest positional headache for Rick Carlisle.

Side-note: A milestone is on the horizon as Dirk Nowitzki currently has 24,357 career points. He needs 12 points to pass Allen Iverson (24,368) for 18th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Nowitzki ranks third among active players in career scoring, trailing only Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.