At the end of the season, Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson will be an unrestricted free agent, and Monday’s performance in Game 2 of the Mavs’ first-round series against the Utah Jazz could have earned him a few extra dollars.
Brunson had a career-high 41 points (6-10 3FG), eight rebounds, five assists, and zero turnovers as the Mavs defeated the Jazz 119-104 at American Airlines Center to tie the series at one.
This was Dallas first home win in the playoffs since 2015.
Game 3 is Thursday night in Utah.
Brunson became the first player in team history with 40 points and 0 turnovers in a playoff game, and he joined Luka Doncic and Rolando Blackman as the only Mavericks to record 40-8-5 in a postseason game.
Mavs head coach Jason Kidd believes Brunson has done enough to get paid this summer.
“I don’t know if he needs an agent, but I’ll put my name in the hat,” Kidd said. “It’s not just what he did tonight. It’s not what he’s going to do going forward. He’s already done the work this season. He’s showing that he deserves to be paid. He does his job at a very high level, and he’s a winner. Hopefully, he can pay me for what I just said.”
With Doncic missing his second straight game with a left calf injury, Brunson carried the load and then some.
“I was just playing how the defense was kind of giving me,” Brunson said. “Just seeing how they were defending certain things—just stepping in confidentially into certain shots. I think I started 5-for-5, maybe. Yeah, the 5-for-5 start is great, but I had the same mentality when I was 0-for-5 last game or something like that. The mentality stays the same. You can’t fluctuate whenever he’s in or out. You need guys to make plays. He has a lot on his shoulders. We need guys to get into the paint and make plays to take the extra pressure off of him.”
For now, Brunson and Maxi Kleber, who scored 25 points, including a career-high eight threes, saved the Mavs’ season.
This series would have probably been over if Dallas had gone down 0-2 heading to Utah for Games 3 and 4.
For now, Dallas celebrates the win and continues to hope they can get Doncic back at some point in this series.
With Luka Doncic out with a strained left calf, the Mavericks would need others to step up in his absence in Game 1 of the Mavs’ first-round series against the Utah Jazz.
Spencer Dinwiddie would get the start in place of Doncic, and he had post-season career highs with 24 points, four rebounds, and eight assists, and Jalen Brunson also had playoff career highs with 24 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. However, Donovan Mitchell scored 30 of his 32 points in the second half, and the Jazz defeated the Mavericks 99-93 at American Airlines Center to take a 1-0 series lead.
Despite the loss, Mavs head coach Jason Kidd was happy with what he got from Dinwiddie, Brunson, and the team’s defense.
“They were great this afternoon,” Kidd said after the game of his starting backcourt. “Offensively, they found guys [and] got shots, but our defense gave us the chance to win this game. A lot of good, not just from those two, but from the team.”
Kidd believes the way Dallas played against the Jazz without Doncic shows that the Mavs have a good team.
“I thought overall, we slowed the game down and gave ourselves a chance to win without Luka [Dončić], and that really just shows the sign of a good team,” Kidd said.
Dinwiddie added: “Personally, we lost by six; I missed six free throws right, so we are right there. If anything, this should be encouraging for the fan base, in my opinion. We are disappointed in the locker room. This isn’t a game that we felt like- obviously, give them credit-they went out there and won the game.”
Dallas defended well as they held the Jazz below 100 points and created 15 turnovers. Utah was in the top 10 in points per game(113.6 PPG) in the regular season, so holding them to 99 points is a win for the Mavs.
However, Dallas has to get more from their offense, and that could be difficult without Doncic, who, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, may miss Game 2 on Monday, so guys will have to step up. Going down 2-0 would be devastating.
We’ll see how the Mavs respond in Game 2.
Reggie Bullock tied a playoff career-best with 15 points and set a new playoff career-best with 6 rebounds.
Dorian Finney-Smith added 14 points (4-7 FG) and 5 rebounds for the Mavericks.
Bojan Bogdanović had 26 points (11-20 FG), 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Today was his fourth career postseason game scoring 25+ points.
History was made Friday night in the NBA. San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich reached 1,336 wins in his career to become the winningest head coach in NBA history as the Spurs defeated the Jazz 104-102 at AT&T Center.
Pop passed Don Nelson (1,335 wins), who had held the record since 2010. After starting his career with the Spurs as an assistant coach from 1988-92, Popovich went to the Golden State Warriors for two seasons as an assistant coach under Nelson.
“Something like this does not belong to one individual,” Popovich said postgame. “Basketball’s a team sport. You preach to your players that they have to do it together, and that’s certainly been the case in my life with all the wonderful players and coaches, the staff that I’ve been blessed with, the support of this wonderful city.”
After the win, the team tried to celebrate with Pop, but he wanted no parts. Actually, the players might have to pay for that celebration.
“Yes, they know how much I enjoy that sort of thing,” Popovich said playfully. “And I’m gonna bring them all in and have them run suicides before the game tomorrow.”
Popovich has led the Spurs to five NBA Championships (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2014) and has the third-most playoff wins in league history (170) and the record for most consecutive winning regular seasons with 23 in a row from 1997-2019.
A three-time NBA Coach of the Year in 2003, 2012, and 2014, Popovich is in year 26 with the Spurs, and he’s the longest-tenured active coach in all four U.S. major sports leagues.
Internationally, Popovich served as head coach of the USA Basketball Senior Men’s National Team from 2017- 20 and led Team USA to a gold medal at the 2020 Olympics.
It was a great night for San Antonio and a great night for Popovich.
Watch below as Pop reacts to 1336 wins:
The Utah Jazz came into Wednesday’s game against the Cavs, a depleted team. The Jazz had six players out due to health and safety protocols, including Rudy Gobert, Rudy Gay, and Hassan Whiteside.
The Cavs took full advantage of it.
Cleveland had six players in double figures as they went into Utah and routed the Jazz 111-91 at Vivint Arena. The 20-point win was the largest victory by the Cavs in Utah in team history.
The Cavs(24-18) have won two straight and are 3-1 on their current six-game west coast trip.
Utah(28-14) has now lost four straight.
The Great for the Cavaliers:
-Darius Garland messed around and got his first career triple-double. The third-year guard had 11 points, 10 rebounds, and a career-high 15 assists. Garland registered his triple-double after three quarters. The only player in Cavs history to have a triple-double after three quarters is LeBron James.
-Lamar Stevens had a career-high 23 points. Stevens went off as he scored 15 of the team’s 30 points in the third, including 11 straight for the Cavs. On Sunday, Stevens had a then career-high 17 points against Golden State, and he surpassed that Wednesday night.
“I got lost in the moment,” Stevens said about his big third quarter. “I was able to pick and choose my spots. I just felt really confident, and I was just riding that confidence and allowing my game to just take me to those 15 points.”
-Lauri Markkanen busted out for the Cavs. He scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds.
Markkanen was 8/11 from the floor, including four threes. It was Markkanen’s first 20-point game since December 26.
-Evan Mobley had another Evan Mobley-type game. The rookie had a double-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds, and he added five assists. Mobley became the first Cavs’ rookie to have 15 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists since, guess who, LeBron James.
-Third Quarter: Cleveland broke the game open in the third after leading 58-52 at halftime. The Cavs outscored Utah 30-16 in the quarter, including an 21-0 run to take their largest lead of 25 points. Utah couldn’t make shots as they went 5/23 from the floor.
The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:
Nothing! Nothing at all!
Even though they beat a depleted Jazz team, this is still a quality win for Cleveland. This was the type of performance we saw from the Cavs when they were blowing teams out during their six-game win streak. It was a team effort during that streak, and we saw the Cavs have a team effort Wednesday night.
In addition, when Markkanen plays the way he did against the Jazz, Cleveland is tough to beat. He can make shots, and the Cavs will only get better if he gets a little more consistent with his shot-making. Cleveland is 5-2 when Markkanen scores 20-plus points.
“We didn’t start messing with the game,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “We took all 48 minutes of it seriously.”
Cleveland travels to San Antonio to battle the Spurs Friday night.
Best of the Rest:
-Kevin Love added 16 points and seven rebounds off the bench; Jarrett Allen chipped in with 12 points and seven rebounds.
– Jordan Clarkson led the Jazz with 22 points off the bench.
-Cleveland outrebounded the Jazz 50-32.
-Rajon Rondo(hamstring) missed Wednesday’s win over Utah.
Watch below as Stevens and Garland talk win over Utah:
On Sunday, the Cleveland Cavaliers returned home to face the Utah Jazz after an undefeated three-game road trip, which included wins against all plus .500 teams.
The Cavs(13-11) battled hard against Utah(16-7), but their three-game winning streak would be snapped as they fell short to the Jazz 109-108.
Utah has now won four straight and five of their last six.
Here is the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Jazz.
The Great for the Cavaliers:
-For the first time in his career, Darius Garland had his second straight 30-point game. Garland scored 31 points(11/19 FG), including a game-high five threes, to go along with five assists, four rebounds, and a career-high-tying four steals. The third-year guard scored 32 against Washington on Friday night.
-Jarrett Allen had his career-high seventh straight double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. He also added two blocks and two steals. Allen went head-to-head with Rudy Gobert and played very well.
-Evan Mobley had his sixth double-double of the season with 14 points, 12 rebounds, and a block. This is Mobley’s 13th consecutive game with a block.
-Cedi Osman returned after missing three games with a back injury, and he scored 11 points off the bench. After the Jazz took a 15-point lead in the fourth, Osman helped ignite a 15-0 run for the Cavs as he scored five points during that stretch, which tied the game at 97.
-Ricky Rubio scored in double figures for the first time in four games as he had 15 points, four rebounds, and two assists off the Cavs’ bench. He added five points in the fourth during the big 15-0 run by Cleveland.
Fourth Quarter: The Cavaliers outscored the Jazz 26-18 in the quarter, including the 15-0 run, and they held Utah to 35% from the field and 3/10 from downtown. Cleveland gave themselves a chance to win in the end with their play in the final period.
The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:
-The Cavs allowed the Jazz to make 20 threes(20/48) Sunday night. Bojan Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale, and Donovan Mitchell had four threes apiece.
–Final Shot: The ball was in the hands of Garland with Cavs down one, and he came up short on a three. He probably could have tried to get a better shot because a made two-point shot wins the game. The last shot wasn’t awful, but it could have been better.
“I work on that shot every day,” Garland said about the final shot.
The Utah Jazz are a very good team and put a lot of pressure on teams with their ability to make the three-point shot. Cleveland fought in this one, especially in that fourth quarter.
The Cavs have played a lot of good teams so far this season and just played four straight games against plus .500 team, including tonight’s contest against Utah. During that stretch, they are 3-1.
That’s a win for Cleveland.
Cleveland will play the second half of a back-to-back in Milwaukee against the world champion Bucks on Monday night.
Best of the Rest:
Utah had five players in double figures as Donovan Mitchell had a game-high 35 points, Bogdanovic added 16 points, Rudy Gobert chipped in with 6 points, and game-highs in rebounds(20) and blocks(5).
Watch below as Garland, Osman, and Rubio react to the loss against Utah:
The 76ers have officially signed F Georges Niang, the team announced on Friday.
According to Marc Stein, it’s a two-year deal worth $6.7 million.
Niang, 28, spent the last four seasons with Utah after spending his rookie year with Indiana.
Last season, Niang posted career highs of 6.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 0.8 assists. He also was the only player last season to appear in at least 70 games while shooting at least 40-percent from both the field and three-point range while knocking down at least 95-percent of his attempts from the foul line.
He is a .404 three-point shooter for his career, a mark that ranks 13th among active NBA players with 600-or-more attempts. This past season, Niang shot nearly 43-percent from three on a career-high 4.1 shots per game.
According to 76ers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey, the 6-7 Niang should stretch the floor for Philadelphia next season.
“Georges is a talented player who can stretch the floor, and he immediately bolsters our frontcourt depth,” Morey said via a press release from the team. “He has shot over 40-percent from three for his career and has steadily improved his overall game each season he’s been in the NBA. We’re excited to welcome him to Philadelphia.”
Next season, Niang should fill the void left by Mike Scott off the 76ers’ bench and will be another dependable shooter for Philadelphia.
Before these exhibition games, the USA Men’s National Team was 54-2 in exhibition contests since 1992.
However, 2021 is a different world for Team USA.
Two nights after losing to Nigeria, the U.S. lost to Australia 91-83 at Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on Monday night.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, it is the first time Team USA has lost back-to-back exhibition games since professionals started playing in 1992.
Coming into the contest, Australia was ranked third globally by FIBA, and if it was not clear before, it’s clear now that winning a gold medal in Tokyo won’t be easy.
Damian Lillard, who scored 22 points against Australia, sees first-hand how much the world has closed the gap.
“These (international) teams are experienced, and we are still working at becoming a team,” Lillard said. “We’re not just going to roll the ball out and beat these teams … these teams have a starting five of NBA players now.”
Again, the closing of the gap in competition was a point of emphasis for Popovich, who said that believing the U.S. has continually beaten every team by a large margin over the last decade is an error in thinking.
“We have had close games against four or five international teams, and the good teams don’t get blown out,” Popovich said.
Australia was led by Spurs guard Patty Mills, who finished with 22 points and Joe Ingles, a Utah Jazz forward, added 17 points.
According to Ingles, Australia expected to beat the U.S. on Monday night.
“We walked into this game expecting to win,” Ingles said. “No disrespect to them, they’re a hell of a team; obviously, the guys they’ve got on their roster and Pop standing up there is always nice to see, but we came in here expecting to win the game, and that’s what we did.”
Team USA gets back at it on Tuesday night against Argentina. Maybe this will be the night that Team USA puts it all together.
Photo: (Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty Images)