Phoenix could have used their new big man and Dallas surely needed their would-have-been -- and might-still-be -- point guard on Wednesday night when the Suns pulled away to beat the weary and short-handed Mavericks 109-97. Steve Nash had 24 points and 13 assists for the Suns, who shot 57 percent.
O'Neal, sidelined with a hip injury, is scheduled to make his Phoenix debut next Wednesday against his old team, the Los Angeles Lakers.
Both teams were playing for the second successive night and won't play again until after the All-Star break.
"It would have been tough to lose this one," Nash said. "We've got a tough stretch after the break and we're incorporating Shaquille, so it's going to be a bit of unknown when we come back."
"They had guys hurt, we're not quite the team we're going to be next week," Phoenix coach Mike D'Anton said. "But just in the standings, everything's so close that these games are important, I mean more than normal."
The Mavericks were playing their fourth game in five nights -- a day after they were close to acquiring the All-Star guard Kidd from the Nets -- but stayed close until the Suns put it away with an 11-2 run late in the final quarter.
"They just had another gear, and we just couldn't get there," Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said.
The Mavs finished with only eight assists, Kidd averages 10.4, but dominated the offensive boards 20-8. The Suns are hoping O'Neal can help cure their rebounding problem.
Nash had more assists than the opposing team for the fourth time this season.
"It was a little tough with the injuries we have to go out and play four games in five nights and end on a tough back-to-back," Nowitzki said. "Hopefully we can get everybody healthy and go from there."
Dallas shot 29 percent (7-for-24) in the third quarter while Phoenix took a 77-73 lead, with Barbosa scoring on his own rebound with a second left.
A four-point play put Phoenix ahead 91-84 7:03 from the finish. Nowitzki was called for goaltending on Diaw's inside shot, and Eddie Jones was whistled for a foul. Jones drew a technical for complaining. Nash made one free throw and Diaw another.
Stoudemire converted a three-point play on a thunderous dunk, then Barbosa scored on a fastbreak and it was 100-91 with 3:22 to play.
Nowitzki scored inside, then Diaw made a 17-footer and Barbosa got another layup after a Dallas turnover, putting Phoenix ahead 104-93 with 1:51 left.
After going 0-for-11 on Tuesday night while being heckled in Dallas, Devean George was 0-for-2 before making a 3-pointer to end the skid. George exercised his no-trade clause to block a seven-player deal that would have brought Kidd to the Mavs. George finished with seven points.
"Both sides are just explaining what they are trying to do," George said of what seem to be ongoing discussions. "They are trying to explain what they want to do."
- The Suns' Brian Skinner missed the game because of the flu.
- Mavs coach Avery Johnson believes he will have a fully healthy team when it next practices on Tuesday. He wouldn't comment on whether he thought that would include Kidd.
- Phoenix had its 100th consecutive home sellout.