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Mavs get defensive, top Suns 103-94 for 2-1 series deficit

DALLAS (AP) – Luka Doncic got the help he and the Dallas Mavericks needed – from Jalen Brunson on offence and himself, Reggie Bullock and others on defence.

The Dallas superstar had 26 points and 13 rebounds, and the Mavericks turned up the defensive pressure to get back in their Western Conference semifinal series with Phoenix, beating the Suns 103-94 on Friday night.

The Mavericks forced 17-year pro Chris Paul into his most turnovers in any half of a playoff game with seven before the break. Dallas cut the Suns’ series lead to 2-1 and ended an 11-game losing streak against Phoenix. Game Four is in Dallas.

The Suns struggled with their shooting when they weren’t turning it over. Phoenix shot 45 per cent, ending a run of at least 50 per cent shooting in the playoffs at eight games.

Jae Crowder scored 19 for Phoenix, but the Mavericks limited the impact of Devin Booker.

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic and Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder battle for a loose ball. PHOTO: AP

Booker scored 18 but was just two of seven inside the three-point line, and Paul had 12 on just nine shots in the Suns’ lowest-scoring game of the season.

Doncic just missed a triple-double with nine assists, while Brunson led Dallas with 28 points. A scrambling Dallas defence was the biggest difference, with Bullock shadowing Paul everywhere.

Paul had six turnovers in the first 16 minutes. The Suns targetted Doncic’s defence. The 23 year-old Slovenian dove to the court early, winning a battle with Deandre Ayton for a loose ball.

Doncic had to leave with his fifth foul early in the fourth quarter, and the Suns cut an 18-point deficit.

The lead was eight when Doncic kept Crowder from getting a steal near midcourt with a minute remaining, leading to a corner three with from Bullock, who scored 15.

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