The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Utah Jazz 126-118 on Thursday night at Vivint Arena to take a 2-1 series lead in their first-round playoff matchup, and it was Jalen Brunson who carried the load in Luka Doncic's absence.
Doncic has yet to play this postseason due to a calf injury, and Brunson has handled starting point guard duties in his absence. He didn't disappoint on Thursday night, finishing with 31 points on 12-of-22 shooting from the floor, and he dished out five assists.
At one point during the game, Royce O'Neale shoved Brunson to the floor, and the point guard struggled to get off the court before limping to the locker room. Considering he had to be tended to, it made his performance that much more noteworthy.
Brunson's performance even earned some praise from people in NBA circles.
Brunson, a second-round pick in the 2018 draft, is in the final year of his rookie contract and is set to get a pretty solid raise ahead of the 2022-23 campaign. The 25-year-old had a career year for Dallas during the regular season, averaging 16.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists while shooting 50.2 percent from the floor and 37.3 percent from deep.
Before Game 3 against the Jazz on Thursday, Brunson put up 24 points, seven rebounds and five assists in a Game 1 loss before exploding for 41 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals in a Game 2 victory.
Even when Doncic returns to the lineup, Brunson will continue to be a significant factor for the Mavericks given his ability to find the basket through contact.
Game 4 between the Mavericks and Jazz is set for Saturday afternoon, and Dallas will be hoping Brunson can put together another impressive performance to help the team take a commanding 3-1 series lead.