Takeaways: How about a little help? And home cooking?

PHOENIX – In the NBA, you got to have weapons.

And that’s particularly true when the defenses get tougher in the playoffs. And even more pronounced when you are playing the team that dominated the league in the regular season.

What the Phoenix Suns did in Games 1 and 2 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Mavericks is a show that Jason Kidd’s group is a little shy on gun powder these days.

When a good defensive team puts their mind to it, they can stop everybody else in a Mavericks ’uniform and live with the numbers Luka Dončić rolls up.

And those numbers can be prodigious – 45 points in Game 1, 35 in the 129-109 loss in Game 2 on Wednesday.

“I’m OK with winning,” Suns’ coach Monty Williams said. “We want to win the game. As a competitor, you don’t want to see a guy go for numbers like that. But our guys want to win. That’s how I view it. That’s how our guys view it. We’ll try to be better, but not just with Luka. We want to be better in a number of areas.

“We have to bring the juice, the stuff, and maintain it.”

That’s good advice for the Mavericks, too, after they melted down in the fourth quarter of Game 2, getting outscored 40-26 in the fourth quarter (and 71-49 in the second half) and falling into a 2-0 hole in the best-of-seven series.

So as the Mavericks flew home from Phoenix Thursday to lick a few wounds and get ready for a rejuvenation in front of the home crowd in Game 3 on Friday night at American Airlines Center, here’s our look back at Game 2 and our key takeaways.

WHERE’S WALDO? Or in this case, where’s Jalen Brunson? And where’s Dorian Finney-Smith? And where’s Dwight Powell? And Spencer Dinwiddie? Coach Jason Kidd has said that the Mavericks are waiting for somebody else “to join the party.” And so far, the numbers for everybody not named Dončić have been substandard. “We got to get other guys shooting the ball better,” coach Jason Kidd said. “We can’t win with just him out there scoring 30 a night, not at this time of year. And we’re playing the best team in the league. We got to get other guys going. We got to get JB and Spencer a rhythm and get them good shots for Game 3. ” To put it in perspective, Luka has 80 points, 17 rebounds and 15 assists in the first two games. Brunson, Dinwiddie, Powell and Finney-Smith have combined for 66 points, 21 rebounds and 12 assists.

POTTY MOUTH: Luke got an earful from some Phoenix fan as he left the court after Game 2. He’s pretty good about ignoring hecklers, but this one apparently crossed the line. “He was saying (stuff),” Dončić said. “I’m not a repeater, but it was a lot of offensive. If it was something normal, I wouldn’t even look. But sometimes, you’re in a bad mood and they say some bad stuff. It’s normal, we’re people. It’s normal to turn around and get mad. ” He added that fans know the players have no retribution and tend to get a little braver. Suffice it to say Luka and all his teammates will be happy to get back to friendlier confines on Friday night.

SEARCHING OUT LUKA ON DEFENSE: The Suns are running a lot of offensive plays with the idea of ​​putting Dončić to work on the defensive end. They seek him out to make him have to defend either the picker or the roller in pick-and-roll situations. “We got to do a better job of helping him,” Kidd said. “They’re bringing him up into everything. We knew that was coming into the series. The last series, we did a better job. We got to get back to protecting one another for Game 3 back at home. ”

CP3 CAME ALIVE: The Mavericks did not get hurt badly by Chris Paul in the first game, but he was deadly on Wednesday. He hit 9-of-10 shots in the second half, including 6-of-7 in the fourth quarter, when he had half of his 28 points. “He’s tough, man. He’s a hell of a player, ”Luka said. “He’s been in the league a lot of years. He knows what this is about, so he’s very tough. We got to do a better job on him. ” And if it’s not Paul, it’s Devin Booker. Or Deandre Ayton. Or Jae Crowder springing loose for 15 first-half points in Game 2. There are simply a lot of holes to plug. And the Mavericks only have so many fingers to go around.

SPEAKING OF DEFENSE: It’s harder to play when your best defender can’t stay on the floor. Finney-Smith played just 20 minutes in Game 2 because he was foul-ridden. A lot of people had to adjust to foul problems as 54 of them were called in the tightly officiated game. What the Mavericks and Suns have to be prepared for is that Game 3 will probably feature a lot fewer whistles and a lot more rough play. But the interesting thing is that a lot of the fouls were offensive. Hooks, loads, flaring elbows. The refs were looking for offensive players trying to gain an advantage.

BONUS TAKE – LET’S GET SOME HOME COOKING: The Mavericks will need their fans to be at their rowdiest for Game 3. Obviously, it’s a must-win if the Mavericks have any intention of making the rest of the series relevant. No NBA team has ever recovered from a 3-0 hole. So, like Dončić’s supporting staff, the fans have to absolutely “bring the juice.”

Twitter: @ESefko

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