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Luka Doncic bests Deandre Ayton, Suns fall to Mavericks

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) shoots over Dallas Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan (6) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)

Wednesday night was a game to forget for Phoenix Suns center and No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton.

The 7-footer was scoreless in the first half and didn’t convert on a field goal until the fourth quarter.

On the other side of the court, Dallas Mavericks forward Luka Doncic was terrific, recording 30 points, six rebounds and five assists in a 104-94 Suns loss.

The reluctant version of Ayton showed up in Dallas. Ayton turned down multiple shot attempts near the rim to kick the ball out to an open Suns player and was uncharacteristically losing his handle on the ball.

He also struggled with foul trouble, picking up his fifth less than two minutes into the fourth quarter and head coach Igor Kokoskov elected to have backup center Richaun Holmes play the rest of the game. Ayton finished with six points and five rebounds in 20 minutes. Holmes, meanwhile, had 16 points, six rebounds and five assists.

The Suns stuck around in the first half thanks to some solid defense and balanced scoring in their second game without Devin Booker. In the third quarter, though, the Suns mustered up only 19 points while giving up 32 to the Mavericks, the highest point total for either team in a quarter.

As one could expect, the Suns were brought to a halt in the fourth quarter after playing the Kings in Phoenix last night.

While Phoenix forced turnovers most of the night, scoring 17 points off them, they couldn’t stop fouling. The Suns committed 34 personal fouls while Dallas had only 17. This resulted in a 45-21 free-throw attempt advantage for the Mavericks. De’Anthony Melton fouled out early in the fourth quarter.

Doncic had it going all night, getting to his signature step-back jumper early for a four-point play.

Josh Jackson had one of his best stretches of the season in the first half, scoring 15 points while doing a little bit of everything.

He faded in the second half, but still finished with a strong 17 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals for Phoenix.

In the second game of a back-to-back, head coach Igor Kokoskov chose to play rookie point guard Elie Okobo extended minutes. Okobo has traded time with veteran guard Jamal Crawford, but Crawford did not play on Wednesday night.

Okobo capitalized, being productive in his 23 minutes with 10 points, four rebounds and three assists.

Melton made up for his lack of scoring by filling up the stat sheet with six assists, two steals, two blocks and six rebounds to go along with four points.

He also had his sequence of the season, a terrific block in transition followed by an assist to Mikal Bridges in the corner.


The Suns are off until Saturday when they are back at home taking on the Denver Nuggets. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. and you can listen live on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

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