NBA players will tell you they can play through just about any injury.
If it doesn’t need to be re-attached or amputated, they’re good to go.
But we all know that’s not the reality. And Jalen Brunson said Friday that he feared the worst when 7-foot Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac came down on the left foot of the 6-1 Brunson.
“I just remember somebody landing on my foot,” Brunson said while recounting the incident in the second quarter of Tuesday’s overtime win over the Clippers. “I found out it was Zubac. That’s a big guy landing on the side of your foot.
“I thought the worst, honestly. Every day has been better. I was able to practice the entire time (Friday). I feel good.”
In that respect, the three-day break between games has been a godsend for Brunson. The Mavericks took two days to recover from their four-game trip and then enjoy Thanksgiving with friends and family. They will get back to business Saturday against Washington at American Airlines Center.
For Brunson, it meant some extra recuperative time.
“I thought something was definitely wrong (when it happened),” he said. “It’s my foot. Probably just a little bit of a bruise . . . But it’s getting better. It can’t get any worse. So I’m just going to try to keep moving it and keep getting better with it. It’s moving in the right direction.”
Brunson expects to play against the Wizards, which is great news after he exited against the Clippers after just 11 minutes of first-half action.
Brunson has teamed up with Luka Dončić and Tim Hardaway Jr. to become one of the best three-guard rotations in the NBA.
They are combining to average 54.8 points per game and all three are averaging more than 14 points per game.
No other NBA team can claim a more potent three-guard rotation.
“We have a great group, especially with the guards – obviously we have one of the best in the league,” Brunson said. “This is year four for me and Luka and 3½ (years) with Tim. So we’ve been together for (awhile). I think something is definitely growing.”
Brunson, by the way, will look a little different to fans who see him in Saturday’s game. He returned from the Thanksgiving break with braided hair instead of the longish Afro that he had been sporting.
“I needed something different,” Brunson said. “I’ll credit my sister. She kind of pushed me to do it. This one’s on her.”
The truth of the matter is that his hairstyle won’t matter one bit on Saturday. What will is that he’s on the court and the Mavericks’ three-headed backcourt monster can continue wreaking havoc.
Briefly: The Mavericks got Reggie Bullock (non-COVID illness) back to practice on Friday and coach Jason Kidd said the swingman was fully recovered . . . Frank Ntilikina continues to recover from a calf injury and will not play Saturday against the Wizards . . . A big part of the overtime win over the Clippers Tuesday was Maxi Kleber. In his second game back from an oblique muscle strain, he had eight points, nine rebounds and a career-best six assists in 36 minutes. The Mavericks were plus-10 when he was on the floor. Nobody else had a better plus/minus. “Maxi is a big part of this, too,” Kidd said. “And sometimes we forget to mention Maxi on the defensive end, or the offensive end.” . . . Kidd on the Thanksgiving break: “I don’t know that we’ll get another break like that. This break comes at a good time after a four-game road trip.”