The Dallas Mavericks hit 20 three-pointers and again neutralized Phoenix point guard Chris Paul to beat the top-seeded Suns 111-101 on Sunday and knot their Western Conference semifinal series at two games each.
Star guard Luka Doncic scored 26 points and Dorian Finney-Smith added 24 for Dallas, which has won two games at home to even the best-of-seven series after dropping the first two games in Phoenix.
The Suns, who finished the regular season with the best record in the league, will try to regain the advantage when they host Game 5 on Tuesday. The series is guaranteed to shift back to Dallas for Game 6 on Thursday.
The Philadelphia 76ers also won a second straight game at home and pulled even with the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Former NBA MVP James Harden scored 31 points to lead six Philadelphia players in double figures in a 116-108 victory.
Center Joel Embiid, who missed the first two games with a concussion and facial fracture, scored 24 points, his presence again making things tougher for Miami defensively.
“The organization on offense, it helps a lot with him on the floor,” said Philadelphia’s Danny Green, who made three 3-pointers on the way to 11 points. “Without him we look a little discombobulated.”
Embiid carried the Sixers early, scoring 15 points in the first quarter. Harden, who didn’t score in the opening period, took over with 13 points in the second and Philadelphia took a 64-56 lead into halftime after an opening half that featured 17 lead changes.
The Sixers, up 89-85 going into the fourth, pushed the lead to 10 with less than six minutes remaining. Miami had cut it to five when Harden drove to the rim for a basket and then drained a three-pointer.
Embiid, still playing in a protective mask, grabbed an offensive rebound and fed Tyrese Maxey for a dunk that made it 111-103, and Harden made another three-pointer to push the lead to 11 with 1:07 left, effectively sealing the win.
Harden scored 16 points in the fourth quarter.
“James was incredible tonight for us,” Green said of Harden, who also pulled down seven rebounds and handed out nine assists in his strongest showing of these playoffs.
His performance helped the Sixers withstand a 40-point performance from Miami’s Jimmy Butler.
“We know it’s going to be tougher in their building,” Green said of Game 5 in Miami on Tuesday. “We’ve got to come in more intense, more focused.”
In Dallas, the Mavericks held off the Suns despite a poor shooting effort from Doncic, who connected on just nine of 25 shots and just one of 10 from three-point range.
Overall, the Mavs were on fire from beyond the arc, with eight three-pointers in the first quarter helping them build a 37-25 lead.
Their 14 three-pointers in the first half tied a franchise playoff record for one half.
Devin Booker led the Suns with 35 points. Jae Crowder added 15 and Deandre Ayton scored 14.
But the Mavericks bench out-scored the Phoenix reserves 36-26.
“This team was amazing,” said Doncic, who was outstanding but received little support in the Mavs’ two series-opening defeats. “Everybody that gets to the court leaves everything out there. If we play hard and we get stops, we’re a dangerous team.”
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