Jason Kidd ended an ugly night for Dallas with a pair of pretty shots.
Kidd’s two 3-pointers, followed by a couple of free throws, in the final 1:11 gave the Mavericks a 91-83 victory over Phoenix on Sunday night that might have dropped the curtain on the Suns’ hopes for a playoff berth.
”The first one I had no choice, the shot clock was about to go off,” said Kidd, who long ago was making those kinds of shots for Phoenix. ”I just took my time and it went in, that’s all. The second one I was shooting it all the way if Dirk (Nowitzki) was going to give it to me.”
Phoenix led most of the ugly game and it was tied at 83 after Jared Dudley’s 14-footer in the lane with 1:37 to play. But Kidd sank one from long range with 1:11 to go to make it 86-83. Channing Frye, scoreless and 0 for 4 from the field, inexplicably forced a 3-point airball at the other end and Kidd responded with another 3 that put Dallas ahead 89-83 with 44 seconds to go.
”These kinds of games come down to will and toughness and I give our guys a lot of credit,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. ”Our shots weren’t falling all night. We struggled with turnovers early and to just hang in and come in to huddles and talking about how we’re going to get it done. That’s progress for us and we’ve just got to keep building on that.”
Marcin Gortat and Dudley were inserted into the starting lineup and scored 20 points apiece for Phoenix. Gortat also grabbed 15 rebounds.
Dallas won its fourth straight and improved to 12-1 against the Pacific Division. Phoenix dropped to 36-36, four games behind Memphis for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West with 10 games to play.
”After this game I don’t think we’re going to be talking about playoffs this year anymore,” Gortat said.
Tyson Chandler had 16 points and matched his season high with 18 rebounds for Dallas, which stayed a game behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the No. 2 playoff spot in the West. Kidd and Jason Terry also scored 16 apiece for Dallas. Nowitzki had 16 on 6-of-19 shooting as the Mavs shot 38 percent overall.
The Suns made just one of 16 3-point attempts and were outscored 26-16 in the fourth quarter.
Coach Alvin Gentry shook up his starting lineup, going with Dudley in place of Vince Carter and Gortat for Robin Lopez. Gortat played with only tape over his broken nose, an injury he sustained banging into the back of Nash’s head in the third quarter of Friday night’s home loss to New Orleans.
Nash had assists on seven of the Suns’ 13 first-quarter baskets, several of the full-court variety, as Phoenix took a 26-17 lead. But he had just three assists the rest of the game. Nash made three of 11 shots and missed both of his 3-point attempts.
The 36-year-old point guard acknowledges he’s banged up ”but no excuses, I could have played a little big better.”
”I am having a hard time getting the ball in the basket right now. It has been a tough year,” Nash said. ”We are facing some pains right now because of the mountain we had to climb all year. I think we have to play with class and dignity and go on fighting every night. We fought pretty hard tonight. We didn’t play great but we fought.”
Carter was benched for the first time this season after starting 22 for Orlando and 41 for the Suns. He had started in every game in which he played except one since the 2007-08 season. Carter, who has an $18 million option, left the locker room without talking to reporters.
Dallas got off to an awful start offensively, shooting 20 percent (5 of 25) in the first quarter. The Mavericks were just 33 percent (15 of 46) in the first half. Still, the Suns led only 49-44 at the break.
The Mavericks never led in the third quarter but finally caught the Suns with a 5-0 spurt capped by Jose Barea’s three-point play that made it 63-all with 1:38 to go. The teams exchanged baskets before Aaron Brooks’ 15-footer with 4.4 seconds remaining put Phoenix up 67-65 entering the fourth quarter.
Two statistics explained the game better than anything to that point: Dallas had shot 37 percent and Phoenix was 1 of 13 on 3-pointers.
The Mavericks’ first lead since it was 6-4 came on Terry’s 3-pointer with 10:12 to play that put Dallas ahead 70-69.
”Shooting 38 percent from the field and still being able to beat a good offensive team and being able to hold them to 83 points is a huge accomplishment for us,” Chandler said. ”We had to buckle down and understand what it was going to take for us to win.”
NOTES: Nowitzki made two free throws to extend his consecutive makes from the line to 74, the longest streak in the NBA this season. … Dallas has won four straight over Phoenix, three this season, the Mavs’ longest against the Suns since 1988. … Dallas is 26-10 on the road, best in the NBA. … The giant scoreboard and screen above the court lost its power with a little over a minute to play. … Phoenix can void $14 million in payroll if its don’t pick up the option for the final year of Carter’s contract. He’s guaranteed $4 million but would be paid $18 million if the Suns opted to keep him.