Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series starts 11/1

Game 1: Tuesday, November 1st
Game 2: Wednesday, December 14th
Game 3: Sunday, March 5th
Game 4: Thursday, April 13th

Suns 96

(13-8, 4-3 away)

Mavericks 102

(16-6, 8-3 home)

7:00 PM ET, December 14, 2005

American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

1 2 3 4 T
PHX 24 20 26 2696
DAL 30 22 25 25102

Top Performers

Phoenix: S. Marion 23 Pts, 19 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

Dallas: D. Nowitzki 29 Pts, 13 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 Blk

Nowitzki, Terry key Mavericks' win over Suns

DALLAS (AP) -- With two guards out temporarily and two key big men out much longer, the Phoenix Suns are relying even more on NBA MVP Steve Nash.

Opponents know it, too, especially the newly defensive-oriented Dallas Mavericks.

Jason Terry scored 23 points and helped hold Nash, his predecessor as the Dallas point guard, to one basket in the second half, sending the Mavericks past the Suns 102-96 Wednesday night.

"We were just trying to contain him," Terry said. "He's the toughest guard in the league to stay with."

Dirk Nowitzki had 29 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks for Dallas. Josh Howard scored 15 points and grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds in his second game back from a bad ankle injury, and Marquis Daniels scored 15 before leaving with a strained neck caused by a flagrant foul from Phoenix center Kurt Thomas.

Meeting in Dallas for the first time since Nash embarrassed Terry for the winning basket in a second-round playoff series, Terry outplayed the reigning MVP and former Mavs star this time -- though it wasn't a fair fight because of Phoenix's depleted lineup.

Terry made 10 of 22 shots with four assists. He had seven points during an early 15-2 run that put Dallas ahead for good and nailed a 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter to slow a Suns rally. He pumped his fist when time expired, relieved that Phoenix bounced back from a last-minute loss to the Lakers to win for the sixth time in seven games.

Nash was 6-of-18 for 20 points with five assists. He scored only four points, two on free throws, over nearly 21 minutes in the final two quarters as Phoenix lost its third straight since winning nine in a row.

"I didn't shoot well and you have to give them some credit for that," Nash said. "If we were a healthy team, we would be concerned but it's tough when you are playing with a short bench. We've just got to stay confident."

The Suns are losing their grip on their status as the league's highest-scoring team. This was the fourth straight game they've been held under 100 points.

"With Leandro Barbosa's speed being out and not having James Jones to hit some shots, we don't quite have enough right now," said coach Mike D'Antoni, whose lineup also is missing Amare Stoudemire and Brian Grant. "We just have to find ways to win, hold serve until we get some of our reinforcements back."

They'll also have to do it away from the comforts of home. This was Phoenix's league-low seventh road game and the start of a stretch of eight of 10 games on the road.

Shawn Marion led the Suns with 23 points and had 19 rebounds, one shy of his career high. He also hit four 3-pointers, but missed one with 1:54 left that would've tied it at 97.

"It was right in our grasp," Marion said. "It's tough to play with seven guys, but at the same time we let them get way too many second-chance points."

Dallas won that stat 20-13. A bigger difference came on points in the paint: 52-30, a risk Phoenix takes every night, especially while Stoudamire is out.

"I think we did a great job getting people in post position, taking it to the basket," Nowitzki said. "Teams like that, when they go small, you've got to punish them inside."

Howard did much of the damage, which was a surprise after he played only 11 minutes the previous game and was still limping on his wobbly ankle. He credited a change in footwear for the spring in his step.

"That's normal Josh -- jumping all over the place," Nowitzki said.

Daniels was on a roll in the third quarter when Thomas smacked him across the face from behind on a drive to the basket. He stayed in for a few more series, then went to the locker room for the rest of the night. A Dallas native, Thomas was booed loudly when he fouled out with 2:40 left. He had 12 points and seven rebounds.

Dallas was 18-of-32 from the foul line, missing seven times in the fourth quarter. Four straight misses came seconds apart with a little more than 2 minutes left to help the Suns keep it close. Devin Harris missed another in the closing seconds, but a missed shot followed and Terry celebrated with a fist pump as time expired.

Game notes

The visiting team had won the previous four regular-season meetings. ... D'Antoni said he expects Jones to return this weekend. This was the second straight game he missed because of a sprained right ankle. ... Mavs F Keith Van Horn didn't play because of a bruised hip. "We're just calling him day-to-day," coach Avery Johnson said. ... Johnson said Jerry Stackhouse (knee) might make his season debut next week. "He's close," Johnson said.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 96 102
FGM-FGA 37-93 (.398) 41-89 (.461)
3PM-3PA 6-21 (.286) 2-12 (.167)
FTM-FTA 16-20 (.800) 18-32 (.563)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-44 15-54
Assists 21 12
Turnovers 8 8
Steals 2 5
Blocks 5 7
Fast Break Points 15 15
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 24 (0/1) 18 (1/0)
Largest Lead 7 11

Top Performers

Shawn Marion Marion
Points: 23
Reb: 19
Ast: 3
Stl: 1
Blk: 1
Dirk Nowitzki Nowitzki
Points: 29
Reb: 13
Ast: 3
Stl: 1
Blk: 3