Dallas, TX — The Dallas Mavericks (14-11) got an unexpected surprise from rookie point guard Jalen Brunson, as he scored a career-high 17 points in a 101-76 victory over the lifeless Orlando Magic (12-15).
Brunson, the team’s second round pick from Villanova, started in place of an injured Dennis Smith, Jr. With Mavericks Hall-of-Fame guard Jason Kidd in the audience, Brunson scored in double figures for the third straight game.
Brunson started off hot in the first quarter, scoring three heavily guarded shots. With Brunson at the helm of the offense as point guard, key screens set for Harrison Barnes and Wes Matthews allowed them to drain a three-point shot apiece.
While there were a few missed dunk opportunities, the highlight of the first quarter was centered on Dallas forward Luka Doncic driving to the paint to throw the ball up to DeAndre Jordan for a dunk. Doncic happily jumped up and down then walked over to high five Jordan. At the end of the first quarter, the Mavericks held a 24-19 lead over the Magic.
Going into the second period and for the remainder of the game, Jordan, Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell controlled the paint with defensive rebounds. Barnes knocked down two threes and a layup in the quarter to keep Dallas ahead by a healthy margin.
The Magic tried to rally by managing to score 21 points to the Mavs’ 28 in the quarter, but there seemed to be a spark missing on offense and defensive sides of the ball. At halftime, Orlando trailed 52-40.
Orlando forward Aaron Gordon made a comment at the end of the game regarding his team’s effort.
“We just didn’t come out with enough energy,” Gordon said. His play reflected that as well, as he only scored 10 points (4-of-15 FG) to go along with three rebounds.
Harrison Barnes became the go-to man for three point shots, as he made three additional ones in the third quarter. Dwight Powell made his presence known in the second half by chasing down the basketball and scoring 16-points and tallying three rebounds. While Doncic had a quiet night scoring wise, his career high of 10 defensive rebounds combined with Jordan’s nine helped the Mavs limit the Magic to six fast break points.
Orlando head coach Steve Clifford gave postgame analysis on why the Magic struggled to score.
“I think their defense is good. They are 11th in the league.” Clifford said. “They dared us to shoot jumpers and we didn’t shoot the ball well.”
In the coming weeks, the Mavs and their team chemistry as well as progress will be tested by match-ups against the Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, New Orleans Pelicans, and Oklahoma City Thunder. There’s buzz of Dirk Nowitzki’s return to the court and then there’s the overall joy to see the small moments of teammates celebrating hard earned baskets.
With so much possibility and a deep bench to back the organization, the Mavs will first look to try and win their 11th straight home game this Wednesday against the Atlanta Hawks.