Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks reacts after teammate Dorian Finney-Smith scored a three-point basket against the Phoenix Suns during the second half of Game Four of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals at American Airlines Center on May 8, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. (AFP)

The Dallas Mavericks rained 20 three-pointers and again neutralized Phoenix point guard Chris Paul to beat the top-seeded Suns 111-101 on Sunday and knot their NBA playoff series at two games each.

Star guard Luka Doncic scored 26 points and Dorian Finney-Smith added 24 for Dallas, who have won two games at home to level the best-of-seven Western Conference matchup 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 five on Tuesday. It’s guaranteed to shift back to Dallas for game six on Thursday.

Sunday’s later Eastern Conference second-round matchup finds top seed Miami at Philadelphia, with the visitors leading the series 2-1.

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, their 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 three-pointers in a half.

They led 68-56 at the break and even more ominously for Phoenix, veteran point guard Paul committed his fourth foul trying to make a tip-in with 1.1 seconds left before half-time.

Paul picked up his fifth foul early in the third quarter and headed to the bench. He returned with 10:28 left in the fourth and promptly fouled out thanks to a hand to the arm of Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson.

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 two 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.”

While Doncic struggled with his shots, he added 11 assists along with four rebounds. He also forced four steals as the Suns turned it over 17 times.

While Phoenix managed to cut the deficit to four points with less than two minutes to play in the third quarter, the Mavericks repelled every challenge.

“The Phoenix Suns, we knew they were going to make a run,” Doncic said. “We stayed together, man. They’re a hell of a team, but I think with us staying together, playing physical, it was the key to this game.”

Doncic said there’s no reason the Mavericks can’t win a game in Phoenix.

“I think we didn’t play hard enough in the first two games,” he said. “Somebody has got to win four, and we can always believe until the end.”

Source: Manila Bulletin (