The Dallas Mavericks hosted the Utah Jazz for a crucial game two Monday. Dallas fell just short in a heartbreaking loss in Saturday’s game one, putting them in a situation where they desperately needed a win in game two. With superstar Luka Doncic still on the mend from his calf strain, the Mavericks and their fans knew they had a tough task ahead.
Jalen Brunson set the tone from the jump, putting on a clinic in the opening frame. Brunson led the team with 15 points in the first quarter, doing so in less than 10 minutes played. The guar shot 6-7 from the field and 3-4 from behind the 3-point line, helping Dallas keep things even at 24-24 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter Dallas began to fall behind a bit, as Brunson was unable to keep up the insane production he provided in the first frame. Spencer Dinwiddie did step up a bit in the frame, scoring seven points on 3-5 shooting. Reggie Bullock also added a pair of 3-pointers, but Utah was able to take a seven-point lead going into the half.
In the second quarter Brunson picked his game back up, shooting a very efficient 4-6 from the field. It was big man Maxi Kleber who also stepped up, making three of his four 3-point attempts to give the team nine points in six minutes of action. Dinwiddie also added eight points, putting the Mavericks right back in striking distance, trailing by just four points entering the final frame.
Dallas opened the frame by trading buckets back-and-forth with Utah, before going on a 11-0 run, giving them a 96-93 lead with less than six minutes to play. Later in the frame Kleber nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to give the team a four-point lead.
The Mavericks never let go, holding on for the final few minutes of the game. Brunson continued to perform well down the stretch, as Dallas held on to the 110-104 win, tying the series up at 1-1.
Brunson had a historic night, becoming the first player in Mavericks history for 40 points and zero turnovers in a playoff game. He also became just the fifth Maverick ever to post 40 or more points in a playoff game.
Kleber also had a historic night, scoring 25 points on 8-11 shooting from deep. Kleber joined Jason Terry as the only Maverick to hit eight or more 3-pointers in a postseason game.
The win was the Mavericks first postseason home win since their round one win over the Houston Rockets back on April 26, 2015. By winning game two Dallas ensured there will be at least one more home game this series, and bought more time for Doncic to return from his calf strain.
Dallas and Utah square off again Thursday at 8 p.m. on NBA TV. Doncic’s status for game three is still to be determined.