May 3 (UPI) — Devin Booker got off to a stellar start, while Deandre Ayton dominated in the paint to lead the Phoenix Suns to a win over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of their second-round Western Conference playoff series.
The Suns made 50.5% of their shots in the 121-114 victory Monday at Footprint Center in Phoenix. All-Star guard Luka Doncic totaled 45 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists and helped the Mavericks climb back into the game in the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t finish they way we wanted to,” Ayton, who scored 25 points, told reporters. “It was an emotional energy out there. It got quiet. We knew we could do better.”
The Suns went on a 9-0 run to start the game and never trailed. They led by as many as 21 points.
Booker totaled 13 of his 23 points over the first 12 minutes as the Suns took a 35-25 lead into the second quarter. Ayton scored 10 in the second to give the Suns a 69-56 lead at the break.
The Suns outscored the Mavericks 27-23 in the third. Doncic then helped the Mavericks rally in the fourth. They cut the deficit to five points with 10.5 seconds remaining, but could not get closer.
Doncic made 15 of 30 shot attempts in the loss. Maxi Kleber chipped in 19 points off the Mavericks bench. Veteran guard Chris Paul scored 19 points for the Suns. Cameron Johnson scored 17 off the Suns bench.
“I think our defense lost us the game,” Doncic said. “Our start on the defensive end was terrible. I know we can play with better defense.”
The top-seeded Suns host the No. 4 Mavericks in Game 2 at 10 p.m. EDT Wednesday at Footprint Center. The winner of the series will face the No. 3 Golden State Warriors or No. 2 Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference finals. The Warriors lead that series 1-0.