Rapid Reaction: Suns 96, Mavericks 94

How it happened: The Dallas Mavericks’ defense, the one aspect of their team they’ve been able to consistently count on this season, betrayed them.

Again. And Again. And again.

And that’s how the Mavs blew an 11-point second-half lead and lost to yet another sub-.500 team.

Phoenix 96, Dallas 94.

The Mavs led 74-63 with about four minutes left in the third quarter. Aided by the momentum of their 15-2 run to end the third quarter, the Suns played their best basketball to start the fourth quarter.

Rick Carlisle called a timeout with 2:55 left in the quarter, when the Suns pulled within six. He used a 20-second timeout 54 seconds later, when the Suns pulled within two.

The Mavs had used the offense of Vince Carter and -- surprise, surprise -- Lamar Odom to grab the lead. But it actually worked against the Mavs because the offense never really flowed through Dirk Nowitzki.

Late in the third quarter, Carter had taken 15 shots and Nowitzki had six. Even though, he was playing well, he shouldn’t have 2 1/2 times more shots than the Mavs’ best player.

The Mavs let Phoenix seize control of the game in the fourth quarter, when Sebastian Telfair hit a 3-pointer that pushed the lead to 88-80, and after Shawn Marion missed a runner, Shannon Brown had a follow dunk that extended the lead to 90-80.

We shouldn’t be surprised the Mavs cratered in the fourth quarter. After all, the Mavs have exactly one victory this season when trailing after three quarters.

What it means: The Mavs have now lost the first game of their only back-to-back-to-back on this compressed 66-game NBA schedule this season. The Mavs are on the final leg of their nine-game, 12-day odyssey and are guaranteed a losing record.

Bold play of the game: With 14.3 seconds left in the game, and the Mavs needing a bucket to tie the score, Jason Terry was on the bench wearing a T-shirt over his jersey. Rodrigue Beaubois took his spot. He missed a runner and a jumper at the top of the key as time expired.

Stat of the game: The Mavs hadn’t had a defensive three-second technical in 17 games. Well, it’s time to begin a new streak after getting four of them in the first three quarters. How wild is that?