Tired of gift-wrapping games, the Dallas Mavericks finally heeded coach Rick Carlisle's advice. In other words, protect the basketball.

In a show of force and mental aptitude, the Mavs turned the ball over just three times in the second half Friday night and that enabled them to upend the Phoenix Suns 109-99 at US Airways Center.

Dallas (20-27) is now 1-2 on this four-game road trip, which concludes Monday night in Oklahoma City before the Mavs finally return home after a week on the road to host the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday.

After fumbling and stumbling their way to 12 first-half turnovers against the Suns, the Mavs protected the ball so well in the second half it was as if they were guarding the U.S. mint.

From the 10:48 mark of the third quarter until O.J. Mayo inadvertently stepped on the baseline with 12 seconds remaining in the game, the Mavs had absolutely no turnovers.

"Cutting down on turnovers was the key to the game, particularly in the second half,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. "We had 12 in the first half and that's way too many.

"You can't win on the road turning the ball over 12 times a half — no way. Guys did a much better job (in the second half), our execution was better, our defense was better, our rebounding was better.''

After losses at Portland on Tuesday and at Golden State on Thursday that ended in controversial style, the Mavs were hell-bent on making sure the game wasn't going to come down to a referee's whistle. They also knew that it would have been difficult for them to focus on the task at hand if they didn't enter Friday's game with a very fresh mind.