Deron Williams caught fire in the fourth quarter, but a late run by the Phoenix Suns resulted in a 102-95 loss for the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center on Thursday.
D-Will scored 10 of his 20 points in the final frame, tying the game at 93, before the Suns closed the contest with a 9-2 run to win their sixth straight.
“It’s very tough, man. This is a tough one to let go of,” Deron said. “This is a very winnable ballgame against a team that’s right there with us, and we definitely let it slip away.”
No. 8 was one of five to reach double figures in the scoring column, as the Mavs shot 46 percent from the floor, while holding their visitors to 45 percent.
“I thought the effort was good. Certainly our effort on the boards has got to be better,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’re playing small lineups, and that can be a factor. But our persistence with five guys going after it has undoubtedly got to be better.”
The game featured 11 ties and 14 lead changes, as neither side led by more than three possessions at any given time.
Deron helped the Mavs get on the board with an assist to Dirk Nowitzki for a three before draining a triple himself to tie it at 6-all. He later gave the Mavs a 16-14 edge with a fadeaway J, as they held onto the lead for the remainder of the quarter.
The Suns trailed 22-19 at the end of the first before opening the second with a 7-0 spurt to take a 26-22 advantage. Dallas remained aggressive, eventually taking a 45-41 edge into the locker rooms.
The Mavs continued to roll out of the break, as their first two field goals came from deep. Nowitzki found D-Will for a triple before Deron returned the favor to put the team ahead 51-46.
The Suns responded with a 10-0 burst, capped by Booker’s hoop-and-harm, to take a 55-51 advantage. Phoenix extended its lead to as many as seven, 61-54, and led until Devin Harris splashed home a buzzer-beating 30-footer to put Dallas ahead at the quarter’s conclusion, 72-70.
Deron found his shooting stroke in the final frame, putting together a pair of personal runs to give Dallas a fighting chance.
D-Will strung together six straight points, converting on a three-point play, driving to the basket for a finger roll and knocking down a free throw, to give the Mavs an 82-81 edge about midway through the quarter.
Later, Deron hit back-to-back jumpers to knot the game at 93-all, but Bledsoe hit a triple on the other end to spark a 9-2 run.
“They just made more plays than us on both ends,” Deron said. “You know, they made shots, and Bledsoe was tough in that pick-and-roll making shots. You know, they made things tough on us all game defensively, and they did so down the stretch as well.”
Deron and the Mavs return to the American Airlines Center to host the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday, Jan. 7 at 7:30 p.m. CT.
The Hawks have won their past five, most recently topping the New Orleans Pelicans on the road Thursday, 99-94. Dennis Schroder (23p, 7r), Paul Millsap (17p, 10r) and Dwight Howard (12p, 11r) led the team in production.