Mavs aim to bounce back against Suns

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Dallas Mavericks dropped their first game with Rajon Rondo at the helm, but will try to get their momentum back Tuesday night when they visit the Phoenix Suns.

The Mavericks had their three-game winning streak snapped on Monday night thanks to a 105-102 home loss to the scorching-hot Atlanta Hawks.

Monta Ellis led the Mavs with 18 points on 8-of-22 shooting and Dirk Nowitzki added 16. Charlie Villanueva managed 14 off the bench, followed by 11 from Devin Harris and 10 out of Richard Jefferson.

Tyson Chandler only scored eight points, but pulled down 19 rebounds.

Rondo, making his second start as a member of the Mavs, contributed the first double-double for his new club with 13 points and 11 assists.

The Hawks led by 19 after three quarters, but the Mavericks fought hard. With two minutes left, Atlanta led by double digits.

Dallas had one last gasp, however. Charlie Villanueva hit two 3s in a span of 13 seconds late in the fourth to cut the deficit to 102-97 before Pero Antic committed a turnover at midcourt. Ellis couldn't convert another trey though, and the Hawks made just enough free throws in the closing seconds to hold off the pesky Mavs.

"We defended better in the second half, we contained penetration much better, our intensity was much better," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "When you have to dig out of a big hole, especially against a good team like Atlanta, it's going to be difficult."

The Mavericks will play three straight at home following Christmas.

The Suns swept a three-game road trip with victories over the Charlotte Hornets, New York Knicks and Washington Wizards. Those wins halted a six-game losing streak.

Against the Wizards on Sunday, Eric Bledsoe had 17 points and nine rebounds as the Suns defeated the Wizards, 104-92, at the Verizon Center.

Goran Dragic posted 16 points, six rebounds and four assists, while Markieff Morris tallied 17 points for Phoenix. Gerald Green finished with 13, while Marcus Morris chipped in 11 and Isaiah Thomas managed 10.

"The whole second half I thought we just stepped it up a little bit," Bledsoe said.

The game was tied 50-50 at the break, but the Suns used a 12-3 run to establish a double-digit lead. Markieff Morris put in the first four points of the surge, which was capped on Dragic's runner for a 67-57 cushion midway through the frame.

The Wiz got within six with 2:40 left, but the Suns ripped off the next eight points to put the game away. Bledsoe concluded the burst with a three-point play for a 103-89 margin with 1:01 to go.

The Suns head out on another long road trip following Christmas with matchups against the Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Suns beat the Mavs in Dallas on Dec. 5, but they are 4-13 in this series since early 2010. The Mavericks are 7-3 in their last 10 in Phoenix.