PHOENIX, AZ (AP) — The Phoenix Suns who bulldozed through their regular-season schedule returned to action on Monday night.

Devin Booker scored 23 points and Deandre Ayton scored 25. The top-seeded Suns won Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals by 121 to114 over the Dallas Mavericks.

The Suns were never in doubt, taking a 9-0 lead within the first minutes of play and holding on until the end. They shot 50.5%, won the rebounding edge 51 to 36 and beat the Mavericks 10 times in a row, not counting regular season games.

Phoenix experienced some hiccups in the end, making it a bit closer than expected. However, the Suns looked a lot more like the team that broke the franchise record of 64 wins.

Chris Paul, Suns point guard, said that “We’ll take victory.” It’s not always going be easy. We did well for most of the game. Tomorrow we’ll review the film and determine what needs to be done differently for Game 2.

Luka Doncic was the Mavericks’ leading scorer with 45 points (12 rebounds, eight assists). This is the first time Dallas has reached the second round of the playoffs in Doncic’s four-year NBA tenure.

Maxi Kleber and Doncic looked up to the challenge, but the rest didn’t rise to the occasion until it was too late. Kleber won the final with 19 points.

Jason Kidd, Mavericks coach, said that Maxi and Luka were the ones who kept us on our feet in the first half. Maxi and LD did a great job. We could easily have been down to 39 at the half, but we were able to keep our feet on the ground. LD did a great job in the second half.

“We just need to find someone to join us.”

Game 2 will be played in Phoenix on Wednesday.

Booker missed three games during Phoenix’s tougher-than-expected first-round win over the New Orleans Pelicans because of a strained right hamstring. Booker returned to the game for Game 6, scoring 13 points. However, he looked more cautious than usual as he tried to keep his health in good shape.

The hesitancy disappeared in the first quarter of Monday’s game: Booker scored 13 points, on 4 of 8, and added six rebounds to go along with four assists.

Ayton was dominant in the paint, mid-range and on the court, with his usual assortment of turnaround jumpers and runners. Ayton, a 6-foot-11 center, shot 12 of 20 shots from the field. Cam Johnson added 17 points, while Paul scored 19 more.

Monty Williams, Suns coach, said that he liked that the team wasn’t content with 3s tonight. “A lot of guys were attacking paint, we were getting floppers and rim shots.”

All five Suns players scored double figures.

Booker’s pass to Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder’s 3-pointer were the highlights of the Suns’ first salvo. Phoenix led 18-6 at the end of the first quarter, before Dallas discombobulatedly called timeout.

Doncic and Kleber helped the Mavericks stay in the game for a while, with Kleber hitting his first four 3-pointers. They helped Dallas pull within 51-47 halfway through the second, but the Suns closed the half on a run that saw them take a 69-60 lead into the break.


After Jae Crowder had taken Doncic to his groin, Doncic was slow in getting up in the second quarter. He was shooting a 3-pointer.

Crowder’s foul was reclassified to Flagrant 1 after an official review.


JaVale McGee, Suns backup center, brought the crowd to its feet in the fourth quarter when he made a rare defensive play from the perimeter.

Doncic gave him the ball, and he stole it from Doncic. Doncic finished with a strong dunk that scored 21 points for the Suns.


Mavericks: Doncic scored 14 on 5 of 9 shooting in the first quarter. Kleber made 5 of 6 3-pointers during the first half, and had 16 points by the end. After being bumped by JaVale Mcgee, Kleber fell in the fourth quarter. He was finishing a dunk. Kleber fell on his back, and was shaken for a while before he took his free throw.

Suns: Crowder scored a 3-pointer in quarter two, then turned around and celebrated with Larry Fitzgerald (former Cardinals receiver), who was sitting on the courtside. Fitzgerald is part-owner of this franchise. … It was the Footprint Center’s 30th consecutive sale, dating back to the regular-season. … This season, improved to 51-0 after leading in three quarters. Also included a 4-0 mark during the playoffs.