Mavericks 122, Suns 99

The Dallas Mavericks, with their offense rolling in high gear,

gave Phoenix fans a glimpse of how ugly life could be without Steve

Nash.

With the Suns’ 37-year-old star point guard sidelined with a

bruised left thigh, the Mavericks routed Phoenix 122-99 on Monday

night, the third victory in a row and sixth in seven games for the

reigning NBA champions.

”We caught a break with Nash not playing,” Dallas coach Rick

Carlisle said. ”I don’t think you can overlook that as a big

factor in the game. We played and I thought our effort was even and

consistent. We were able to keep fresh guys on the floor. We moved

the ball well and made shots and our defense was good enough to

win.”

Nash is certainly no defensive stopper, though, so his absence

could not explain the Mavericks’ onslaught in Dallas’ eighth

straight victory over Phoenix.

”They’ve always been tough for us,” the Suns’ Jared Dudley

said. ”It’s just a tough team to guard and once they start hitting

shots, the flood gates really opened.”

A strained right calf sidelined Dallas point guard Jason Kidd

for the second night in a row, but the Mavericks were just fine

without him, amassing a season-high in points for a half (66) and

for a game.

Delonte West scored a season-high 25 for Dallas on 9 of 12

shooting, including 5 of 6 3-pointers. Vince Carter, still being

paid by Phoenix after the Suns waived him before the season began,

scored 21 for the second night in a row.

”We have so many playmakers, so many guys who can put the ball

in the hole,” West said. ”We just have to trust each other and

that was on display tonight. We didn’t have our leader, Jason Kidd

out in the mix. He can knock down 3-pointers. We hope we can build

on this and get him back as soon as possible and get him back in

the flow of things.”

The Mavericks were 13-5 in January, wrapping the month up with

wins on consecutive nights over San Antonio and Phoenix.

Carter was waived by Phoenix when the lockout ended, but his

contract still guaranteed him $4 million. He would have made $18

million had he stayed with Phoenix. He had missed five games with a

sprained left foot before returning two games ago. He has matched

his season high with 21 points in each of his last two

appearances.

”Just getting into the flow,” he said. ”With the injury, I

had some time to get my body right and focus on getting healthy. I

was trying to do all the things I could to just to get back and

step back in and continue to play.”

The 122 points surpassed Dallas’ 116 against Utah two games ago.

It also was the highest score for a Phoenix opponent this season,

topping the Bulls’ 118-97 victory at Chicago on Jan. 17.

Longtime Sun Shawn Marion scored 20 for the Mavericks, winners

of three straight and six of seven.

Dirk Nowitzki had 10 points in his second game back after

missing four games to rest his sore right knee.

Marcin Gortat had 17 points and 10 rebounds for Phoenix. Dudley

added 15 points, Sebastian Telfair 13 and Grant Hill 12.

Dallas shot 55 percent, including 14 of 27 on 3-pointers.

Phoenix had cut Dallas’ lead to 55-47 on Gortat’s 9-footer with

1:56 left in the half, then the Mavericks finished the half with an

11-1 run, taking a 66-48 lead on West’s layup at the buzzer.

Officials reviewed the play and called it good. West had a pair of

3-pointers to start the run.

The Suns got no closer than 16 early in the second half, with

Dallas leading by as many as 28.

Notes: Nash needs seven assists to pass Kevin Johnson as the

Suns’ career assists leader. … Dallas had never beaten Phoenix

eight times in a row until Monday night. … Phoenix last beat

Dallas on Jan. 28, 2010. … The Mavericks have scored 116, 101 and

122 in their last three games after reaching the century mark four

times in their first 19 games.