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Dragic directs Suns past Mavs

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DALLAS — Goran Dragic is in a zone, and the Dallas Mavericks were the latest to pay for it.

The red-hot point guard racked up 28 points and 13 assists to lead the running Phoenix Suns past Dallas 118-106 on Friday night at American Airlines Center.

“Goran was fantastic,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said.

He wasn’t the only one. Power forward Markieff Morris also had a double-double for the Suns, who improved to 12-8 and picked up their first signature road win of the season. Phoenix has a shot to get a couple more victories with trips to Houston on Saturday and the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday up next.

Dragic, the Suns’ leading scorer in the last three games, was instrumental in keeping Dallas at arm’s length down the stretch. The Mavericks had cut the deficit to five points early in the fourth quarter before he led a final push to put the game away.

“We tried to bring the same energy that we did last game (a 116-99 win over Indiana) and we tried to push the ball,” said Dragic, who made 10 of 15 shots from the field. “We know that they have some veterans on that team, and we need to be able to push the ball and hopefully they will be tired in the fourth quarter. I think that is exactly what we did.”

Dragic is averaging 28 points and 8.7 assists during the three-game stretch. Morris added 22 points and 10 rebounds, shooting guard Eric Bledsoe scored 19, and guard Gerald Green (15 points) and forward Marcus Morris (11) led the attack off the bench.

The Suns shot 56 percent from the field (45 of 80) for the game and made 13 of 26 3-pointers.

The Mavericks (15-6) saw their five-game winning streak snapped in falling to 7-3 at home. Shooting guard Monta Ellis, the star of Dallas’ recent 4-0 road trip, scored 33 points but didn’t get much sustained support.

Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki wasn’t sharp after sitting Wednesday’s win at Milwaukee to rest a sore back. He scored only 10 on 2-of-10 shooting from the floor and didn’t take a 3-pointer.

“They’re an up-tempo team, but when they’re in the half-court and Dirk’s getting the ball, it’s tough,” Hornacek said. “So our guys did a good job of fighting him all night, and luckily for us he didn’t make the shots.”

Dallas plays host to the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday, and Mavs coach Rick Carlisle is concerned.

“We’ve got to get better by Sunday,” he said. “We have another team coming in here that’s got the same kind of mentality, slice-and-dice, drive-and-kick, quick guys putting it on the floor and lining you up.”

Phoenix had lost 11 of its previous 12 games in Dallas. The Mavericks lost for the first time in 16 games this season when scoring at least 100.

The Suns took it to Dallas by pushing the ball and slashing to the basket from the tip. A 10-0 run gave Phoenix a 14-6 lead and forced an early Mavs timeout.

Phoenix took a double-digit lead shortly after behind a balanced effort from its starters and continued to pile it on. The Suns had as much as an 18-point edge and finished the first quarter up 40-27 behind 10 points from both Bledsoe and Dragic.

“They were shooting over 60 percent the majority of the game,” Carlisle said. “We you start out giving up a 40-point first quarter, you’re not ready to play defensively.”

Ellis tried to keep Dallas close with 11 points in the first quarter and 18 in first half. The Mavericks went into the break down 69-57 despite shooting 56 percent from the field in the half.

Phoenix, with four in double figures, was shooting 65 percent from the floor and even better from deep. The Suns made 10 of 13 3-pointers, with Dragic knocking down all three of his tries.

The Mavericks pulled within single digits (74-65) for the first time since the first quarter on a four-point play early in the third quarter. Ellis knocked down a 3-pointer and center Tyson Chandler was fouled by center Miles Plumlee setting a screen.

NOTES: Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said the technical foul that team owner Mark Cuban claimed was called on him Wednesday at Milwaukee (officially assessed to assistant Monte Mathis) has been rescinded by the league. … Suns G Isiah Thomas missed his fifth consecutive game with a right ankle bruise. “It’s gotten better, but not to where I can play in an actual game,” he said. … Mavericks C Tyson Chandler’s 82 rebounds in the previous five games were the most for any Dallas player since Roy Tarpley in 1990. Chandler also came into Friday leading the league in dunks with 56. … Dallas is now 4-1 this season when Ellis scores at least 30 points.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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