Mavericks point guard Jalen Brunson, an unrestricted free agent this summer, scored a career-high 41 points during the Mavericks’ 110-104 Game 2 victory over the Jazz Monday night, as Tim MacMahon of ESPN writes. The win knots Dallas’ first-round series with Utah at 1-1.
Dallas explored a five-out offensive attack, capitalizing on a Jazz weakness (guarding the perimeter). Brunson’s performance proved critical for a Mavericks club missing its lone All-Star in Luka Doncic, still sidelined with a left calf strain.
“I know he’s dying to get out there soon, but he’s got to take his time,” Brunson said of his backcourt mate. “I know he’s doing everything in his power to not let his team down, but he has to make the decision that’s best for him. Not necessarily knowing where he is [in the recovery process], but I just know that he’s a competitor and he wants to be out there. We’re trying to hold it down for him.”
Following a breakout fourth season in Dallas and thanks to this playoff start, the market for Brunson should be robust this summer. He’s averaging 32.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 5.0 APG and 1.0 SPG across the first two games of the Utah series. For the regular season, Brunson registered averages of 16.3 PPG, 4.8 APG, and 3.9 APG, along with a shooting line of .502/.373/.840.
There’s more out of the Lone Star State:
- Mavericks big man Maxi Kleber, dealing with a severe long-range shooting slump, seems to have righted the ship across his first two playoff games with Dallas this season, per Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com. Kleber had been converting 18.8% of his three-point looks since returning from the All-Star break, but is now 10-of-16 from deep over the first two games of the Utah series. “Obviously it is a big boost, but even in the games before when I didn’t shoot well, I think overall I still did many things and we won as a team,” Kleber said. “It doesn’t matter if I get a hot day and make my shots or somebody else does. All we care about is getting the win. Obviously, it feels really good to make those shots because the end of the season wasn’t my prettiest.”
- The rebuilding Rockets face a variety of roster choices during the 2022 offseason. Kelly Iko of The Athletic previews what could be an action-packed summer for Houston in a new piece. Iko examines the fits of expected high-lottery draft picks Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero and Jaden Ivey; the future of $47.4MM man John Wall; potential extensions for Kevin Porter Jr. and Jae’Sean Tate, and more.
- The Spurs face an interesting decision during the 2022 offseason, as fourth-year shooting guard Lonnie Walker IV is set to hit restricted free agency, writes Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. The 6’4″ wing has indicated that he is “hopeful” to sign a new deal with San Antonio. “Everyone talks about what I do for the community, but nobody talks about what the community does for us as players — the love and energy and everything they instill in us,” Walker said. “I embrace the fact the community embraced me. I’ve been having a hell of a time.” The 34-48 Spurs finished with the No. 10 seed and a play-in tournament appearance this season. In 70 games for San Antonio, Walker averaged a career-high 12.1 PPG and 2.2 APG, plus 2.6 RPG, in 23.0 MPG. He posted shooting splits of .407/.314/.784 this season.