Nowitzki returns but Mavs lose to Suns 99-89
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By BOB BAUM
PHOENIX (AP) The Phoenix Suns have just five wins this season, and two have come against the Dallas Mavericks.
The latest was Thursday night, when T.J. Warren scored a season-high 30 points and the Suns snapped a 10-game losing streak with a 99-89 victory.
The Dallas loss came in the season debut of Dirk Nowitzki, who hadn't played yet while recovering from ankle surgery. When he entered the game late in the first quarter, it marked his 21st season with the Mavericks, most by a player with one team in NBA history.
Phoenix beat the Mavericks for the seventh straight time.
Both Suns wins this season came in Phoenix, the first a 121-100 victory in the season opener. Both games were late tips on national television.
Dallas, which had won three straight and eight of 10 overall, made only 5 of 33 3-pointers.
"Generally I thought our effort was good," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "We held them under a hundred. We just had a rough night offensively. We turned it over too much and their offensive rebounding hurt us. In the NBA today, it doesn't matter what records are or anything else. If you go bad in a couple of key categories, statistical categories, you are going to have trouble winning on the road. `'
"We were communicating. We were together," the Suns' Richaun Holmes said. "We all had the mindset to win."
Warren had 11 points in the first quarter and finished the game 11 of 17, including 3 of 4 on 3s. He credited coach Igor Kokoskov.
"Igor, he had a lot of good sets for me tonight," Warren said, "and my teammates did a good job finding me in my spots in transition. Just me being myself out there."
Dallas never led after the first quarter. Phoenix was up by 10 at halftime and as many as 15 in the third quarter.
The Mavericks tied it twice early in the second period before a 9-2 spurt put Phoenix up 36-28 on Jackson's fast-break dunk. Another dunk on the break, this one by Warren, gave the Suns their biggest lead of the half at 47-36 with 1:14 left. Dallas scored the next four points before Mikal Bridges banked in a 3-pointer from 35 feet at the buzzer to put the Suns up 50-40 at the break.
The Mavericks cut it to 56-53 early in the third but Phoenix got two 3-pointers from Ariza and one from Jackson in a 12-4 run to lead 68-57 on Crawford's driving layup. The Suns twice stretched the lead to 15 late in the quarter, the last time 78-63 after Warren's driving reverse layup with 53 seconds left. Phoenix led 78-67 entering the fourth.
Barnes' basket cut the lead to 90-83 with 3:43 remaining but the Suns scrambled for a loose ball and Jackson sank a 3-pointer to make it 93-83. Barnes lost the ball to Ariza for a turnover, Crawford made a 19-footer and the Suns coasted from there.
Mavericks: Backup point guard J.J. Barea missed the game with a sprained left ankle. ... Dallas was 2 of 19 on 3-pointers in the first half. Barnes was 0 for 6. ... Mavs were playing for the second consecutive night, beating Atlanta 114-107 in Dallas on Wednesday.
Suns: Deandre Ayton, the No. 1 overall draft pick, was just 3-of-13 shooting for seven points with five rebounds and four turnovers, compared with Dallas' Luka Doncic, the No. 3 pick, who had 13 points, six assists, five rebounds and four turnovers. ... It was the first Phoenix win this season without Devin Booker, who missed his sixth straight game (hamstring). ... The 89 points were the fewest allowed by the Suns in a game this season.
Mavericks: Host Sacramento on Sunday.
Suns: Host Minnesota on Saturday.
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Updated December 14, 2018