After a hard fought, back and forth second outing between the Dallas Mavericks (5-3) and San Antonio Spurs (2-6) on the second night of a back-to-back, the Mavs escaped the Spurs’ comeback bid in the waning moments, winning 109-108.
With both starting forwards, Kristaps Porzingis and Maxi Kleber, out of the rotation again due to back injuries, head coach Jason Kidd doubled down and kept Jalen Brunson in the starting unit.
Brunson was uber efficient as a starter against the Miami Heat on Tuesday night, scoring 25 points while shooting 10/13 from the field and 2/2 from deep, but Luka Doncic was the driving force late in the game as Brunson took a backseat and the team ultimately faltered, losing 125-110.
Tonight, however, was Jalen’s turn down the stretch.
Brunson’s Big Night
Starting off 0/3 in the first quarter with only two free throw makes to go along with two turnovers, it looked as if Brunson had used up all his shot-making juice against Miami.
It took the guard all the way until only four minutes were remaining in the second quarter to connect on his first bucket of the night, soon followed by a three pointer with two minutes left.
He also canned 6/6 from the charity stripe to get his total to 11 points, but no one at halftime would have predicted the Brunson bomb that went off in the second half, especially late in the fourth.
While less efficient from the floor than the first game of the back-to-back, shooting 9/17 from the field and only connecting on one of four three-point attempts, Jalen finished with his second highest scoring output of 31 points, along with 10 rebounds, three assists, and not a single turnover after the first quarter.
Brunson made his way to the free throw line for a game-high 15 attempts, connecting on 12 as he continued to attack the Spurs pick and roll defense.
Unfortunately, one of those misses came with only 2.7 seconds remaining on the clock as Kidd was obviously yelling from the sideline for Brunson to miss so the clock would run during the rebound attempt.
The Mavs were almost too clever for their own good, as the ball missed the rim, granting the Spurs one last ditch effort for the win.
The Spurs came up empty handed with an overthrow by Keldon Johnson over the outstretched arms of Boban Marjanovich as the Mavs came away victorious.
Fans shouldn’t remember this game by the accidental miscue by Brunson and the narrow escape, but instead how he scored the final five buckets for Dallas along with three free throws in the final four minutes, including a five-possession torching of former Maverick Doug McDermott in the pick and roll.
Sitting behind Luka on the depth chart will always call for underappreciation, but the Mavs’ may have a potential sixth-man of the year candidate, or possibly a new member of the starting unit by the way his play has been to begin the season.
Can’t Stop Boban
Overshadowed by Brunson’s late-game heroics, Boban also played his tail off, finishing with 17 points in only 15 minutes of action.
The Spurs were without Jakob Poeltl and were forced to use 6’ 8’’ Thaddeus Young as the backup center, who Marjanovich feasted on, finishing 8/10 from the field with a plus/minus of 17.
In a game where San Antonio made a clear decision to push the tempo with small ball, Boban was able to stay relevant and deter the Spurs’ attacks inside while fulfilling his role as a paint monster.
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