Dallas Mavericks Stun the Phoenix Suns in Game 7 Upset

The Suns had the best record in the N.B.A. in the regular season, and went to the finals last year. This time, they couldn’t make it out of the second round of the playoffs.

A Game 7 in the N.B.A. playoffs is supposed to be the most thrilling, intense type of game, where the high stakes bring out the best in both teams.

It doesn’t always work out that way, but rarely does a team crumble as thoroughly as the Phoenix Suns did Sunday night.

By halftime, Suns fans sat slumped in their seats, the Suns’ players wore blank looks as they sat on the bench and the Mavericks’ Luka Doncic could not stop laughing.

Phoenix’s catastrophe was well underway.

The top-seeded Suns lost to No. 4-seeded Dallas, 123-90, in Game 7 of their Western Conference semifinals series in Phoenix. Dallas, which led by 46 points in the second half and never trailed, will face Golden State on Wednesday in San Francisco in Game 1 of the conference finals.

The Suns dominated the regular season and set a franchise record for wins with one goal in mind: return to the N.B.A. finals for a second straight year — and win the championship this time.

Now, they won’t even get a chance to try.

“I know they didn’t want to play that way,” Suns Coach Monty Williams said. “We basically played the worst game of the season tonight. That group has a lot of character and integrity. I know how bad they wanted it.”

He added: “Dallas played their tails off from start to finish.”

Doncic scored 35 points with 10 rebounds and 4 assists, without playing at all in the fourth quarter. Spencer Dinwiddie added 30 points for Dallas, and Jalen Brunson scored 24.

“I can’t get this smile off my face right now,” Doncic said after the game. “I’m just really happy.”

Game 7 between the Suns and Mavericks was the first time the road team won in the series. The Suns had beaten the Mavericks by an average of 19 points per game in the previous three games in Phoenix.

On Sunday, though, being at home offered no boost for Phoenix.

By halftime, the Suns had eight assists and seven turnovers. Their entire team had scored 27 points — just as many as Doncic had during the first half. Devin Booker and Chris Paul, their offensive leaders, had made none of their 11 field goal attempts.

“Some of the pressure was probably on them early because they missed some shots that they normally make,” Mavericks Coach Jason Kidd said.

Booker finished with 11 points and Paul with 10. Center Deandre Ayton played only 17 minutes 27 seconds, and scored 5 points.

For Phoenix, the loss ended a season that began ominously when the N.B.A. started investigating Robert Sarver, the owner of the Suns and the W.N.B.A.’s Phoenix Mercury, after current and former employees accused him of racist, sexist and otherwise inappropriate behavior. The results of the investigation have not been announced.

On the court, it was the Suns’ most promising season in 12 years. They were nearly unbeatable, going 64-18 during the regular season.

They lost three out of their first four games, but then went on an 18-game winning streak that included two wins over the Mavericks and one over Golden State. The Suns set the franchise single-season wins record with their 63rd victory, which came against the Los Angeles Lakers in a game that knocked the Lakers out of playoff contention.

The Suns were led by two All-Star guards: the 25-year-old Booker, and the 37-year-old Paul, in his 17th N.B.A. season. Last season marked the first time Paul had ever been to the N.B.A. finals.

Suns wing Mikal Bridges finished second in voting for the league’s Defensive Player of the Year Award, and Williams was named coach of the year.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

As the playoffs approached, Williams worked to balance his desire to rest players, heading into what they expected to be a long playoff run, with a need to keep them playing for momentum heading into the postseason.

They lost four of their last six games, but still entered the playoffs as heavy favorites as the No. 1 seed.

Right from the start their path was rockier than expected. They took six games to beat the New Orleans Pelicans, who had sneaked into the playoffs through the play-in tournament after having the ninth-best record in the West.

The Suns have the most wins and finals appearances of any N.B.A. team that has not won a championship.

Last season, Phoenix made its third trip to the finals and fell to the Milwaukee Bucks, losing four consecutive times after winning the first two games.

The Bucks also were eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday, losing a Game 7 to the Boston Celtics, who will face the top-seeded Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals starting Tuesday.

Source: Basketball -


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