SALT LAKE CITY — With Jalen Brunson playing like a superstar — and with his teammates coming to his rescue — the Dallas Mavericks didJalen something Thursday night they haven’t done in seemingly forever.

They beat the Jazz in Utah.

Brunson scored 31 points and fought off a painful lower back in helping the Mavs beat the Jazz, 126-118, at Vivint Arena in Game 3 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series. In winning in Utah for the first time in 12 tries, the Mavs have now recaptured the precious home court advantage and lead this best-of-seven series, 2-1.

Game 4 will be Saturday at 3:30 p.m. before the series shifts to American Airlines Center for Game 5 Monday at 8:30 p.m.

Doing his impression of Luka Doncic, Brunson completely handcuffed the Jazz and stifled any notions they had of containing him. Even when Baylor-ex Royce O’Neale clocked Brunson in the back and wedged him between himself and 7-1 Jazz center Rudy Gobert, that only momentarily slowed down the Mavs’ four-year veteran.

Brunson laid on the floor for a moment, got up clutching his lower back, said something to the referee that drew a technical foul. He then went to the dressing room for the remaining 4:38 of the first half.

Jalen“I think Royce just belt me in the back,” said Brunson, who was 12-of-22 from the field. “That’s that.”

Brunson returned in the second half and helped the Mavs stave off a ferocious comeback attempt by the Jazz. The Mavs led, 68-51, at halftime, and Utah rallied to close to within 103-102 when Mike Conley drained a three-pointer with 6:40 remaining.

But Spencer Dinwiddie scored on two drives to the hoop, and Brunson added six points and suddenly the Mavs were back in business and back comfortably ahead, 113-104, with 3:09 left. And when Dinwiddie added a bucket from downtown with 1:24 left as the shot clock was about to expire, the Mavs were holding a commanding 119-109 lead and knew they could jog to the winner’s circle.

Afterward, Davis Bertans had high praise for Brunson, who scored a career-high 41 points in Game 2, and join Jamal Murray (92), LeBron James (74), Michael Redd (73), Karl Malone (73) and Michael Jordan (72) as the only players who have scored at least 72 points with one turnover or less over a span of two consecutive playoff games.

“He’s a great player,” Bertans said. “He’s worked really hard to get in this position, and with the opportunity for him in this situation with Luka being out, the ball is in his hands a lot more and he’s been delivering.

“But he’s been doing that the whole season when Luka is on the bench.”

Brunson, though, wasn’t the only Mav who delivered handsomely. The Mavs used a balanced attack that saw them have seven players tally 12 or more points, including 20 points (and five rebounds, six assists and three steals) from Dinwiddie, 14 points, eight rebounds and four steals by Dorian Finney-Smith, and 12 points and six boards from Reggie Bullock.

Not to be outdone, the Mavs’ bench outscored their Jazz counterparts, 49-24. The bulk of those points came from Maxi Kleber (17 points), Bertans (15 points, 14 minutes), and Josh Green.Spencer

In fact, Green poured in 10 of his 12 points and added six assists and two steals in the first half, as he was darting all over the floor and creating havoc for Utah. It was a nice bounce-back game for Green, who was just 1-of-9 from the field with only two points in the opening two games of this series.

“I think going into the game, obviously I was struggling shooting my threes the first couple of games,’ said Green, who was 3-of-5 from downtown in Game 3. “For me just going in knowing that I shot well in the regular season, go in with the same attitude. At the end of the day if you want to make them you’ve got to take them.

“It’s always good to have the coaches trust, the coaches behind you, the coaches talking to you – (telling me to) ‘shoot it every time. Every time you’re open, shoot it.’ That means so much, not just for me, but the whole team in general. It gets us on a roll, it shows that the coaches trust us. We really trust what the coaches are doing and the coaches’ game plan, and it’s how we execute that and go out and play as a team and play for each other.”

And when Dinwiddie did a wind up and dunked right in the face of Rudy Gobert, early in the third quarter the Mavs’ bench went wild and the Dallas lead increased to 74-58 after Dinwiddie completed the three-point play.

Coach Jason Kidd praised the production he received from his bench, saying: “Our bench was big. When you look at Maxi shooting the ball. JoshBut it’s just not Maxi.

“What makes this team special is Josh had those looks the first two games and his teammates truly told him he has to shoot it, this is the right play, and today they went in.”

For the overwhelming majority of the night, the Mavs kept the crowd out of the game with their superb play. Although Doncic missed his third straight game of this series while nursing a strained left calf, the Mavs kept generating offense at a very high rate.

After burying 8-of-11 threes in Game 2, Kleber came off the bench and tossed in a trio of three-pointers in less than four minutes that helped staked the Mavs to a 27-20 lead after the first quarter.

“The first shot from the corner felt good,” said Kleber, who was 4-of-5 from downtown. “We just tried to play the same style – a lot of movement. I just let it fly.

“For me it’s more important about the mindset. You know you’re going get those shots and you have to shoot them with confidence.”

In regaining control of this series, the Mavs certainly were not lacking confidence. That was evident by the Mavs shooting 49.4 percent from the field and also convertingMaxi 18-of-42 shots from three-point range.

Even more evidence, after getting outbounded by 19 by the Jazz in each of the first two games of this series, the Game 3 board work ended in a 32-32 stalemate.

“The communication level is high,” Kidd said. “We knew what the atmosphere was going to be like. Getting off to a good start kept that atmosphere down.”

Brunson, meanwhile, wasn’t going to allow his painful lower back keep him off the court, as he became just the seventh player in Mavs’ history to score 30 or more points in consecutive playoff games.

“I think most importantly I saw how hard the team was playing when I was laying back there (in the locker room),” he said. “They were just playing really hard, withstanding the runs and doing what they do, and it kind of gave me a little motivation to go back out there.

Jalen“I knew I was going to come back and play. I just needed a moment.”

Once Brunson got that moment, it was lights out for the Jazz. With boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather in attendance, it was Brunson who delivered the knockout punch Thursday.

“I think his shot-creating and shot-making has been amazing all season,” Kleber said, in reference to Brunson. “But the determination that he has coming down the stretch, hitting those big shots, the confidence that he has is just fun to watch.

“Whenever he gets into the paint and he gets like a little step ahead of the defender, I know it’s going in.”

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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