If misery loves company, the Phoenix Suns found the perfect companion for their heartbreaking 112-104 loss in San Antonio Friday.
For the second consecutive evening, Phoenix built a double-digit lead.
For the second consecutive evening, its Texas-based host had no problem overcoming the deficit.
The Suns reeled off a 17-6 run to close the first half, clung to their advantage for the better part of two quarters, but yet again couldn’t hold off the Dallas Mavericks when it mattered most.
Monta Ellis scored a game-high 37 points, Dirk Nowitzki pitched in with 23 points, and Dallas took the conference clash, which held major playoff implications, by a final of 101-98.
With a win, the Suns would have moved into sole possession of seventh place in the Western Conference, instead they sit a half game behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the final spot with two games remaining.
The Mavericks, meanwhile, clinched a postseason berth with the win. It’s their first appearance in the NBA Playoffs since the 2011-12 season.
Here’s a look back at the three-point defeat by the numbers:
With two games remaining, the Suns’ margin of error is slim to none — especially considering they host the Grizzlies Monday night in Phoenix. Memphis leads the race for eighth by half a game, has a game in hand and holds the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Since Jan. 17, the Suns have only lost three games by three points or less. Ironically, one of the other two occasions came against the Mavericks (110-107) at US Airways Center.
The Suns received little contribution off their bench, especially from key role players like Gerald Green and Markieff Morris. The duo combined for just 16 points on 4-of-17 shooting from the field.
And it’s safe to say the final of those 13 combined misses hurt the most, as Morris missed a game-tying three-point attempt at the end of regulation.
Phoenix forward Channing Frye had it going from distance in Big D. The veteran stretch-four hit five first half three-point shots en route to a 21-point performance. Frye hadn’t hit five triples in a contest since Jan. 21 against the Denver Nuggets.
The Suns had six different players grab at least five boards, including Green who had a team-high seven.
Eric Bledsoe nearly scored 30 points for the second time in 24 hours, but his night wasn’t all full of positives.
With Dragic dragging through most of the night, Bledsoe had the ball in his hands early and often — which wasn’t necessarily a good thing for Phoenix.
Bledsoe coughed up the ball seven times, just as he did in the eight-point loss to the Spurs.
In San Antonio, Phoenix’s lead ballooned to as big as 21. In Dallas, the advantage was as high as 13. In fact, in all three of their April losses, the Suns have blown double-digit leads in the second half.
Former MVP Dirk Nowitzki continued his career-long assault of the Suns. After going 1-of-6 in the first half, Nowitzki scored 21 points over the final two quarters, which included a trio of backbreaking three-point shots.
The last time Goran Dragic returned after missing time due to an ankle injury, the Suns guard recorded a career-high 40 points in a victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. Saturday, he labored through his 40 minutes of play, scoring only 13 points on 33 percent (6-of-18) shooting from the field. Dragic hadn’t shot worse than 35 percent in a game since Feb. 21.
Saturday marked the fifth time in 2013-14 that Ellis reached the 30-point mark. In those five games, Dallas is 4-1.
Dallas has been a thorn in Phoenix’s side for nearly a decade. The Suns have not won a season series against the Mavericks since 2004-05 — Steve Nash’s first in the Valley after departing from the Lonestar State in free agency.