Thursday , May , 25 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Diaw’s jumper lifts Suns past Mavs in series-opener

=== Diaw’s jumper lifts Suns past Mavs in series-opener ===

Dallas, TX (Sports Network) – Boris Diaw drained a short jumper with less than
a second remaining to lift the Phoenix Suns over the Dallas Mavericks,
121-118, in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals at American Airlines
Center.

Diaw ended with a playoff career-high 34 points on 13-of-23 shooting for the
Suns, who rallied from a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit to steal homecourt
advantage in the opener of this best-of-seven series.

Steve Nash, who spearheaded a 16-4 run to end the game for Phoenix, had 27
points and 16 assists. Shawn Marion added 24 points and 13 boards for the
Suns, who have won the series opener in each round this playoff series.

“It was a great game and we had to make some adjustments in the game and they
had to do the same thing,” said Marion. “We got some stops at the end of the
game and pulled it out.”

Devin Harris had a playoff career-high 30 points for the Mavs, who failed to
follow-up their dramatic seven-game semifinal series win over the defending
champion Spurs with another winning effort.

Game 2 will be in Dallas on Friday.

Dirk Nowitzki added 25 points and 19 boards for Dallas, which led 114-105 with
just over 3 1/2 minutes to play.

However, the Suns refused to go away and scored 16 of the final 20 to take the
victory away from Dallas.

Nash scored the first 10 points for Phoenix during the surge, drawing the Suns
within 116-115 on a three-pointer over a minute to play. He then drew an
offensive foul on Harris with 55 seconds left and set-up Marion for a go-ahead
dunk on his team’s ensuing possession with 43.9 seconds on the clock.

After Jerry Stackhouse lost the ball out of bounds for the Mavs and Diaw
missed a runner, Dallas went back ahead.

The Mavs got the rebound of Diaw’s miss with 22 seconds left and didn’t call a
time out, instead choosing to not allow the Suns to set up their defense. On
the possession, Harris received a cross court pass and from the right wing
drained a jumper over Nash with 4.8 seconds left for a 118-117 edge.

The Suns called a time out and Tim Thomas got the ensuing inbounds pass to
Diaw in the post. Diaw backed down his defender and hit a turnaround jumper
from in the paint with 0.5 second left.

Dallas failed to convert the following inbounds pass and Thomas was fouled,
hitting both free throws with two-tenths of a second to play.

“We didn’t execute down the stretch,” said the Mavs’ Jason Terry. “We had a
nine-point lead with three minutes left. A couple turnovers, a couple blown
defensive assignments, execution on both ends of the floor; all correctable
errors. We will watch the tape tomorrow.

Dallas’ starting forward Josh Howard left the game in the second quarter with
a sprained right ankle. X-rays Wednesday night came back negative and he will
undergo an MRI on Thursday to determine the extent of the injury.

Phoenix also lost starting guard Raja Bell with a strained left calf in the
second half.

“It’s pretty painful right now,” said Bell. “I thought someone threw something
at me from the stands. Right now, I’ve got to be pretty optimistic because I
want to play, but we’ll see in the morning.”

Howard ended with six points, while Bell had eight.

Phoenix led 35-29 after one quarter and 62-58 at halftime.

With Phoenix continuing to lead, 91-87, with under two minutes to play in the
third quarter, Dallas went on a 13-0 run that bridged the final two frames to
go ahead. Stackhouse had six points during the surge, nailing a bucket
at the end of the third for a 95-91 edge, and Marquis Daniels ended the run
with a three-point play with under a minute gone in the fourth for a 100-91
cushion.

The Suns later drew within 106-103 on a Thomas basket five minutes into
the final quarter, but Harris later capped an 8-2 surge with a three-point
play at the 3:43 mark for a 114-105 cushion.

Stackhouse had 16 points off the bench.

Thomas had 17 points for the Suns.

“They were just quick enough tonight,” said Daniels. “But we still had our
chances. We were right there. We just have to come in and get better.”

Game Notes

Terry finished with 15 points for the Mavs…Dallas bench outscored
Phoenix’s 36-11…Phoenix shot 55.3 percent from the field…Dallas hit 50.5
percent of its shots…Dallas fell to 1-2 in Game 1s this postseason.

DAL PHO