By SCHUYLER DIXON, AP Sports Reporter
DALLAS (AP) — Luka Doncic plummeted toward the baseline after being hit by Chris Paul just before the halftime buzzer, the apprentice showing he watched one of the masters draw fouls.
The trick caused a fourth critical foul on Paul, allowing the Dallas Mavericks to get revenge in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Doncic scored 26 points while helping Dallas capitalize on Paul’s fouls to beat the Phoenix Suns 111-101 on Sunday for a 2-2 draw.
“I saw he was going for the rebound and I was surprised,” said Doncic. “He was like, ‘Did I push you so hard?’ I said, ‘No, not that hard. But it was a smart piece. And he said, ‘Yes, I know.’ »
Paul ended up being kicked out of Game 4 early in the fourth quarter, the period he often topped the Mavericks on an 11-game winning streak that ended in home games for Dallas. Game 5 is Tuesday night in Phoenix.
Dorian Finney-Smith scored a playoff career-high 24 points on the most 3-pointers he had, either in the regular season or in the playoffs. He was 8 of 12 from deep, including 3 in a row for a 14-point lead midway through fourth.
Dallas tied its 20 3 (20 of 44) from a rout of the Los Angeles Lakers on Mother’s Day in 2011, a victory that completed a four-game second-round sweep on the way to the championship. The Mavericks are playing beyond the first round for the first time since then.
Devin Booker scored 35 points for the Suns, who lost two in a row on the road to a 2-0 lead, just like they did in the NBA Finals last year. Milwaukee won the last four to win the title. The top-seeded Phoenix lost consecutive games for the first time in the playoffs.
“Last year was a learning experience for us,” Booker said. “We went to six games last year with the Lakers, six games with the Clippers, six with the Bucks, six with New Orleans (this year). We understand it’s a series. It’s the playoffs for a reason.
Turnovers were Paul’s story in Dallas’ Game 3 win, when the 37-year-old had the most in any half of his playoff career with seven before halftime.
This time it was fouls, and it started when coach Monty Williams put him back in the game with three in the final minute of the first half. Williams had knocked out Paul after his third at 1:52.
Paul drove to try to score in the final seconds but let the shot short, then made the unfortunate decision to chase the rebound.
“I have to get back to that,” Paul said. “I mean, I can’t put myself in the position of giving them that ability to do it. I just have to watch myself and figure out how to do better.
Just 2 1/2 minutes into the second half, Williams had no choice but to use his challenge when Paul stopped and backed into Jalen Brunson as Paul began to bring the ball in the field. The fifth foul was confirmed after review.
The sixth also came against Brunson just a minute and a half after Paul returned in the fourth. Paul finished with five points.
“Everyone has to take ownership, and that starts with me,” Williams said. “I made some decisions tonight that put us in a tough situation. Should have kept Chris out of the game, especially just before half-time. And then, as a team, we need to take ownership of the guard. balloon, so we don’t have to help as much.
Booker kept the Suns close to the fourth quarter despite long stretches without his backcourt mate, but Doncic eventually wore them down with post-ups and other drives for buckets or assists.
With the Suns down six midway through the fourth quarter, Doncic pulled the defense back for a short bank shot, followed by Finney’s 3 straight.
Then the lead was reduced to eight when Doncic drove twice and was sent off at the 3-point line both times. Reggie Bullock hit first and Brunson hit second for a 105-95 lead with 2:52 remaining. Eight of Doncic’s 11 assists were on 3.
“Luka told me when I had five 3s he was like, ‘You’re about to have more,'” said Finney-Smith, who finished a playoff record shy of of the Dallas franchise’s 9-3 by Jason Terry in the Lakers’ Mother’s Day rout. “When LD tells you you’re about to get another 3, I thought I was going to get some.”
It was unclear what Paul was addressing after the game when he tweeted about a player’s family being approached by fans in Dallas. He was not asked about it by reporters after the game. “I want good players for saying things to fans, but fans can get their hands on our families,” Paul wrote before adding a swear word.
“The Dallas Mavericks are aware of an incident between a fan and the family of Chris Paul,” the Mavericks said in a statement. “This was unacceptable behavior and will not be tolerated. The Mavericks, along with the American Airlines Center, promptly removed the fan from today’s game.
Suns: Crowder kept Phoenix afloat early when the Mavericks were shooting better than 60 percent from 3, hitting a few from deep. He finished with 15 points. Deandre Ayton had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Mavericks: Finney-Smith’s five 3s in the first half were his best in any half of his career, regular season or playoffs. … Brunson scored 18 points. Davis Bertans started 4 of 4 from 3 and finished with 12 points.
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