Suns show why they’re the NBA’s best crunch-time team with brilliant closing run in win against Mavericks

After their first trip to the NBA Finals in nearly 30 years, the Phoenix Suns have come back sharper than ever this season. And thanks to a 109-101 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night, they’ve now won five games in a row and improved to a league-best 35-9 on the season. 

Thursday night’s contest, the last on a lengthy five-game road trip, could have been a letdown, especially after the Suns got down by double digits in the second half. But in typical Suns fashion, they kept fighting and put together yet another dominant fourth quarter to secure the win. 

This was the 18th “clutch” game of the season for the Suns (within five points with less than five minutes to play) and they’re now 15-3 in such games. They shoot a league-best 59.2 percent in the clutch and have an astounding plus-42.7 net rating in clutch minutes. Simply put, they destroy teams when the game is on the line. This game was further proof, as they closed on a 22-6 run that showcased everything that makes this team special. 

Here are three key reasons why Phoenix came away with the win over Dallas on Thursday night.

1. Defense

The Suns boast the second-best defensive rating in the league (104.2 points allowed per 100 possessions), and they locked in on that end of the floor in the fourth quarter against the Mavericks. For the quarter, they allowed just 19 points, and over the final 7:01 — when they made their closing run — they held the Mavericks to 3-for-10 from the field and forced four turnovers. 

“It’s the experience,” Devin Booker said. “I think our playoff run last year helped our chemistry moving forward. We’re never fazed in those situations, we hang our hats on the defensive end and try to just make it tough on other teams. It usually works out.”

The turnovers not only prevented the Mavericks from scoring but got the Suns’ offense going as well, as they turned all four of the takeaways down the stretch into baskets. It wasn’t just the turnovers, either. Just watch how Booker and Bismack Biyombo navigate these screens and force Luka Doncic into…

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