suns vs. Mavericks score, takeaways: Chris Paul, Devin Booker help Phoenix to 2-0 series lead in Game 2 win

The Phoenix Suns certainly looked like the top league in the Western Conference in their semifinal game against the Dallas Mavericks, and the latest example of that came in Game 2 on Wednesday night when the Suns walked away with a 129-109 win over a Commander 2 -0 series lead. What started as a back-and-forth game with the Mavericks holding a two-point lead heading into halftime quickly spiraled out of control in the fourth quarter when Chris Paul took over and knocked out the game for Phoenix.

Paul finished the game with 28 points, eight assists and six rebounds, while Booker netted 30 points in the win. Four of Phoenix’s five starters ended the game in double digits as the Suns blown open a game in which Deandre Ayton played just 19 minutes due to foul issues.

Luka Doncic put on another show for the Mavericks, finishing with 35 points to go, seven assists and five rebounds. Reggie Bullock himself added 16 points to help with the loss, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a tough Suns defense.

The series now shifts to Dallas, where Game 3 will take place on Friday. Here are three takeaways from Game 2.

1. A masterclass from Chris Paul

Wednesday night was the perfect reminder to never take Paul’s first half stats too seriously. With the Mavericks leading 60-58, Paul had just eight points on 2-for-6 shooting from the field. It was a quiet half of the undisputed Point God, but it turns out that for Paul and the Suns it was just the calm before the storm.

After a back-and-forth third quarter, the Suns got to work in the final 12 minutes of the game, led by the excellent work of Paul, who collected 14 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter. Paul got whatever he wanted in the fourth quarter, mostly while chasing matchups at Doncic. He enjoyed the so-so defense of the superstar guard and showed off his patented midrange game.

The funny thing is, you’d think Doncic would be able to stay ahead of the Gray Veteran Guard, but Paul — who looked like he was moving at half speed while going to work — caught Doncic on his hip every time he to the edge and kept collecting points. You would also think the Mavericks would try anything to slow Paul down like trying to catch him and force the ball out of his hands but instead it was the CP3 show and he delivered every time he touched the ball the fourth quarter.

By the time Paul checked out with 5:45 to go into the fourth quarter, the Suns had a 17-point lead and the 36-year-old guard could sit back comfortably on the bench knowing his team had secured the win. That’s how dominant Phoenix was in the fourth by Paul.

2. Dallas struggled to stay out of trouble…again

In Game 1, it was Brunson and Bullock who incurred costly early errors for the Mavericks to curtail their production in the first half. Tonight it was Dorian Finney-Smith, Dallas’ best defender, who made three mistakes in the first half. On the plus side, the Mavericks put on a great production from Davis Bertans, who caught fire from long range in the first half, taking nine runs at 3-for-6 from deep. Losing Finney-Smith for most of the first half wasn’t as damaging to Dallas as it could have been, given it led by two points after 24 minutes.

However, the offense was not limited to just the first half. Brunson ended the game with four errors, Dwight Powell had five and Finney-Smith had four. It prevented Dallas from being as aggressive as they wanted to be in defense in the second half, resulting in 28 points left for the Suns after halftime. The mistakes on key players like Finney-Smith and Brunson also took away their production on the attacking side of the ball. Finney-Smith, who shot 39.5 percent from deep in the first round against Utah at an average of 13.2 points per game, finished the game with just two points on two shots. He is a crucial part of what Dallas does on offense, primarily as a corner 3 specialist taking advantage of assists from Doncic and Brunson.

Speaking of Brunson, he finished the game minus-22, while having just nine points and shooting 25 percent from the field. It’s the second straight game Brunson has fought against this miserly Suns defense, and his inability to go on offense has greatly hampered the Mavericks. Couple that with Dinwiddie returning to his inefficient ways from his previous stint in Washington DC throughout the playoffs, and the Mavericks aren’t getting much production from anyone outside of Doncic.

Much of that is due to the stellar perimeter defenses Phoenix uses, followed by legitimate edge protections from Ayton and JaVale McGee. Still, the Mavericks will have to figure out how to consistently put points on the board or this will turn into a quick run for them.

3. Is this series coming back to Phoenix?

The series now shifts back to Dallas, with the Suns leading 2-0 and showing no signs of slowing down. The Mavericks have flashes showing that they can take on this team, particularly in the last few minutes of Game 1 where they tried to storm back, and in the first half of Game 2 where they looked like they had this game can win.

However, the Suns are not a team to make a lot of mistakes against, and there will be little room for mistakes heading into Game 3 on Friday. Some of the adjustments the Mavericks can make are working harder to fight across fencing so Doncic doesn’t get caught in the crosshairs on every ride across the floor. If Paul and Booker can hunt down Doncic every time, then this series will soon be over.

On offense, Dallas just needs more from Brunson and Dinwiddie. Bullock did everything he could in Game 2 to help Doncic on offense, especially in the third quarter when he combed away three three-pointers in a row, but Dallas can’t afford to give Brunson another stinky night in which he ends up with only nine points. Part of that is because he picks up pointless mistakes when thrown into substitutions and given the task of guarding Ayton, but the Suns will keep swapping him and tricking him into mistakes, so he needs to make sure he can at least produce on the other end.

If the Mavericks can’t figure out when they’ll be hosting the next two games at the American Airlines Center, then there’s no need to travel back to Phoenix for a Game 5 or after.

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