NBA

Jason Kidd and Mavericks teammates shower Jalen Brunson in praise

By Sports Desk April 22, 2022

The Dallas Mavericks were united in their appreciation of Jalen Brunson after he scored 31 points in their 126-118 road win against the Utah Jazz to take a 2-1 series lead.

Brunson, coming off a career-high 41 points in Dallas' upset Game 2 win, was terrific once again, hitting 12-of-22 shots and all seven of his free throws, while also dishing five assists and committing only one turnover in 35 minutes.

Those 35 minutes would have been more if he was not forced to leave the floor in the second quarter for a short period of play after a hard hit in the back from Royce O'Neale, but he was able to return and carry his side down the stretch.

While Brunson was at the heart of everything the Mavericks were doing, he told post-game media about how he was inspired by watching his teammates battling while he was receiving treatment on his back.

"I saw how hard the team was playing when I was laying back there," he said. 

"It gave me a little mojo to come back out there and do my thing. We’re all on the same page, we’re all clicking, we’re all talking and communicating."

Mavericks coach Jason Kidd was careful to not get ahead of himself, but he gave praise to his starting backcourt.

"When you look at Spencer [Dinwiddie] and 'JB', those two have the ball, and there's no panic," he said.

"We always believe we're going to make the right play, share the ball on the offensive end, and then help each other on the defensive end – and that's what we did.

"In a hostile environment, against a very good team that's well-coached, we put ourselves in a position to win the game and found a way.

"I just told the guys – we haven’t done anything. They won at our place and now we won here. 

"We need to put this game behind us and figure out what we need to do better."

Dallas forward Maxi Kleber – who is shooting a scorching 14-of-21 from three-point range in the series – then took his turn to pat Brunson on the back, calling him "fun to watch".

"His shot-creating and shot-making has been amazing all season," he said. "But the determination he has coming down the stretch to hit those big shots, and the confidence he has, is just fun to watch."

Far from a sore loser, Jazz coach Quin Snyder also paid respect to the man who has authored two straight losses for a sputtering Utah side.

"[Brunson is] unique in his physical strength and his ability to kind of keep his dribble alive in the lane where he really uses his body," he said.

"He’s able to play with his feet on the floor, so if you do try to come over and help, he has the ability to find people and spray the ball out."

Game 4 will remain in Utah – where Luka Doncic is expected to return – before heading back to Dallas for Game 5.

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