Mavs pull level with Suns
Paul angry after Dallas fan harasses family
Published: May 09, 2022 05:16 PM
Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks looks to pass around Deandre Ayton of the Phoenix Suns on May 8, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. Photo: VCG

Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks looks to pass around Deandre Ayton of the Phoenix Suns on May 8, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. Photo: VCG

The Dallas Mavericks rained 20 three-pointers and again neutralized Phoenix point guard Chris Paul to beat the top-seeded Suns 111-101 on Sunday and knot their NBA playoff series at two games each.

Star guard Luka Doncic scored 26 points and Dorian Finney-Smith added 24 for Dallas, who have won two games at home to level the best-of-seven Western Conference matchup after dropping the first two games in Phoenix.

The Suns, who finished the regular season with the best record in the league, will try to regain the advantage when they host game five on Tuesday. It's guaranteed to shift back to Dallas for game six on Thursday.

In Dallas, the Mavericks held off the Suns despite a poor shooting effort from Doncic, who connected on just nine of 25 shots and just one of 10 from three-point range.

Overall, the Mavs were on fire from beyond the arc, their eight three-pointers in the first quarter helping them build a 37-25 lead.

Their 14 three-pointers in the first half tied a franchise playoff record for three-pointers in a half.

The Mavericks led 68-56 at the break and even more ominously for Phoenix, veteran point guard Paul committed his fourth foul trying to make a tip-in with 1.1 seconds left before halftime.

Paul picked up his fifth foul early in the third quarter and headed to the bench. He returned with 10:28 left in the fourth and promptly fouled out thanks to a hand to the arm of Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson.

Devin Booker led the Suns with 35 points. Jae Crowder added 15 and Deandre Ayton scored 14.

But the Mavericks bench out-scored the Phoenix reserves 36-26.

"This team was amazing," said Doncic, who was outstanding but received little support in the Mavs' two series-opening defeats.

"Everybody that gets to the court leaves everything out there. If we play hard and we get stops, we're a dangerous team."

While Doncic struggled with his shots, he added 11 assists along with four rebounds. He also forced four steals as the Suns turned it over 17 times.

While Phoenix managed to cut the deficit to four points with less than two minutes to play in the third quarter, the Mavericks repelled every challenge.

Paul had more on his mind Sunday night than his team's loss to the Mavericks.

The NBA veteran voiced his frustration in a tweet after reports that his wife, Jada, was pushed and his mother, Robin, also touched by fans in Dallas.

"Wanna fine players for saying stuff to the fans but the fans can put they hands on our families ... f**k that!!" Paul tweeted.

ESPN reported that Paul's children saw the physical harassment that left the player's family feeling "very unsafe."

Paul himself could be seen talking to arena security personnel during the fourth quarter, and he asked to be excused early from a post-game press conference.

The Mavericks addressed the "unacceptable behavior" in a statement and said the fan had been ejected from the arena.

"The Dallas Mavericks are aware of an incident between a fan and the family of Chris Paul," the team said. "It was unacceptable behavior and will not be tolerated. The Mavericks, along with American Airlines Center, swiftly removed the fan from today's game."