Early Sunday night at Paycom Center, the very young Oklahoma City Thunder were still in striking distance of the Dallas Mavericks. That’s when Jalen Brunson took matters into his own hands and decided to do something about the situation.

Brunson proceeded to go on a personal 10-0 run and the Mavs built a 10-point lead on their way to securing a 103-84 triumph over the Thunder. The scoring spree by Brunson, along with a dominating performance from Maxi Kleber, Moses Brown and the remainder of the Mavs’ bench, helped Dallas increase its won-loss record to 13-13 heading into Monday’s home game against the Charlotte Hornets.

And it all came while superstar point guard Luka Doncic missed Sunday’s game with soreness in his left ankle that’ll also keep him out against the Hornets.

The Mavs came out a timeout with 7:20 remaining in the third quarter nursing a 60-54 lead. Over the ensuing two minutes and 39 seconds, Brunson scored in traffic, popped in a three-pointer, tossed in a floater, split a pair of free throws, and buried a 12-footer to put the Mavs up, 70-60. The takeover by Brunson – he started in place of Doncic – came after he had an inauspicious first half when he scored just two points.

“I think for me, I probably started the game a little timid,” said Brunson, who finished with 18 points and nine boards. “Nothing bad, but just a little second-guessing myself, unsure either whether to shoot or pass in certain moments.

“I just told myself (during that 10-0 run), I just got to be aggressive in my game. If it’s there, I’ve got to be able to just be me. I didn’t really start that way, but I was able to get into a groove at the right time and I got us going.”

The Mavs rode that “groove” by Brunson all the way to the winner’s circle and finished this road trip with a 2-1 worksheet.

“I thought Brunson did a great job,” coach Jason Kidd said. “Everybody is touching the ball there in the first half, and then he goes on a personal (10-0) run there, and no one is complaining. Everybody is accepting that JB’s scoring.

“The luxury is you can have him come off the bench (or) you can start him. He’s a true pro and we’re happy to have him. Again, he ran the team great.”

Brown also proved to be a luxury for the Mavs. The seldom-used backup center was a thorn in the side of his former team all night, finishing with a season-high 15 points, six rebounds, two blocks and a whole lot of intimidation around the basket in a season-high 20 minutes.

In addition, Brown pieced together his own personal 5-0 scoring spurt in the first half, which ended with the Mavs owning a 56-46 lead.

“It’s definitely something that we’ve been working towards – just being able to be relied upon, not only by my coach, but my teammates,” Brown said. “Being able for them to rely upon me and trust me in the defensive coverages as well as on offense, and them knowing that I’m going to go out there and do a job every single time.”

When Dwight Powell lost a contact and had to exit less than two minutes into the game, Brown hopped off the bench and immediately blocked a shot, snatched an offensive rebound and scored. More than anything, that sequence proved that he was more than ready to contribute.

“He doesn’t know if he’s going to play a lot or play at all,” Kidd said. “Now that he’s starting to settle into his routine, you’re seeing the results of that.”

While playing the final 31 games for the Thunder last season, Brown averaged 9.5 points and 10.5 rebounds and led the NBA in offensive rebounds with 131. That includes Brown’s memorable 21-point, 23-rebound game against the Boston Celtics, who acquired Brown in an offseason trade but then traded him to the Mavs shortly thereafter for Josh Richardson.

“As a staff we talked about looking at Moses a little bit more,” Kidd said. “Moses had a quick entry due to DP losing a contact — he had a block and got a score. And I thought that kind of gave us some energy.

“So he did great and deserved more minutes. The more minutes he gets the better he gets, and he earned them. His teammates were cheering for him. He works extremely hard.”

That was evident from all of the Mavs’ reserves as Dallas’ bench outscored its OKC counterparts, 54-29, with Josh Green producing eight points and five rebounds in just 18 minutes.

“I think they both have taken advantage of the minutes,” Kidd said, in reference to Brown and Green. “I think they also have been prepared.

“They’ve been preparing themselves (while) not getting minutes, doing the work they’re supposed to do. Now that their number has been called, they’ve been a positive.”

Green, who moved up the rotation because Sterling Brown missed his fourth straight game due to soreness in his left foot, was just delighted he was in position to be a factor in Sunday’s game.

“The more experience you get, the more comfortable you get,” Green said. “For me it’s just working hard and waiting for an opportunity.

“And I just tried to make the most of it and do whatever I can do to help the team out.”

So too, did Kleber, who wrapped a three-point play and a pair of free throws around two charity tosses from Brunson which staked the Mavs to a 98-78 lead with 3:12 remaining in the game. And when everything was said and done, the Mavs won for the first time this season – against four losses – when Doncic was unable to play.

“When you’re missing a player like that, it’s definitely tough,” Brunson said. “So it’s not going to be just one person (who takes up the slack). It’s going to be a unit to kind of just bring it up, just collectively bring it together.

“We’re missing a big piece, so we’ve just got to find ways to be productive without one of the best players in the game. It’s tough, but we just wanted to keep being aggressive, keep playing with pace and try to get easy baskets as much as we can.”

That approach turned out to be a winning formula for the Mavs.

Twitter: @DwainPrice

Share and comment

More Mavs News