The Dallas Mavericks (49-32) showed a sure-fire determination to return to the postseason. With their backs against the wall at halftime, the Mavericks fought back to defeat the Phoenix Suns (47-33) in an all-so crucial battle for playoff hopes. Dallas’ victory punched a playoff berth after missing out last season for the first time in 12 years.
How it went down:
It wasn’t the ideal start as the Mavericks watched Phoenix F/C Channing Frye connect on four 3-pointers and push the Suns out to the early lead. Monta Ellis put his stamp onthe game from start to finish. Ellis’ aggressiveness kept Dallas within striking distance despite weak team defensive play.
“He’s (Monta) missed the playoffs a whole lot, and I know he wanted it and you could tell he wanted it,” Devin Harris said. “You could tell he was engaged from the start. I’m just happy for him.”
Dallas allowed 57 points in the opening half and trailed by 11.
Dirk Nowitzki had yet to make his presence felt until after the intermission. Only 1-for-6 in the first 24 minutes, Nowitzki came alive in the third quarter with 14 points.
— SiriusXM NBA Radio (@SiriusXMNBA) April 13, 2014
The Mavericks would carve into the Suns’ lead and head into the decisive 4th quarter down three.
Dallas would outscore Phoenix by six in the final frame to seal the deal behind the play of Monta, Dirk and Brandan Wright.
Inside the Numbers:
Monta matched his season-high with 37 points on 15-for-23 shooting.
Nowitzki and Ellis tallied 44 of the Mavericks 55 second half points.
Impact Play of the Game:
There was no shortage of important plays for Dallas, including the Dirk back-to-back triples in the third during the Mavs comeback. Monta also knocked down a pair of 3-pointers during that crucial stretch plus some amazing finishes at the basket.
That said, the impact play goes to high-flying big man Brandan Wright who’s block of the night prevented an Eric Bledsoe layup to tie the game with 12 seconds left. Wright finished the evening with 12 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks in 32 minutes.
Step-Up Mav of the Night:
If not for Monta’s heroics tonight, Dallas would in some trouble right now. You could say that for the entire season, but specifically this game. You learn to live with the mistakes he’ll make at times, but his good easily outweighs the bad these days. Monta was sensational in the biggest game of the Mavericks season.
Monta told Inside Stuff, the main reason he chose Dallas was the opportunity to play alongside Dirk. It’s worked out better than most expected and the two form one dynamic duo as they showed tonight.
Really happy for Monta Ellis, making 3rd trip to the playoffs in his career. Tied season high w/ 37 points. Mavs wouldn’t be here w/out him
— Mark Followill (@MFollowill) April 13, 2014
“Ah man, it’s lovely; We set this goal at the beginning of training camp. Everybody doubted us and for us to come and be here in the playoffs, and then add our goal to get 50 wins, we got one more game to do that and get ready for the playoffs.”
— Monta Ellis
“The reason we won is because we had one of the best players on the planet in Dirk and because Monta Ellis, at the time we needed him most, stepped up and had his biggest game of the year.”
— Rick Carlisle
The Mavs conclude the regular season on Wednesday night in Memphis. The Grizzlies play two games before then, so it remains to be seen what will be a stake. A Memphis lost to either the Lakers or Suns before Wednesday would lock up the 7th seed for Dallas.
Photo: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports & AP Photo/LM Otero; Quotes Via Jeff Caplan of NBA.com and Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas.