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Luka Doncic-less Mavs earn road win over Jazz

Apr 21, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson (13) shoots the ball over Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale (23) during the first quarter at Vivint Arena. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Brunson scored 31 points and the Dallas Mavericks survived a Utah Jazz comeback attempt to take a 2-1 lead in their first-round Western Conference playoff series with a 126-118 win in Salt Lake City on Thursday.

Brunson led seven different Dallas players in double digits to compensate for the absence of superstar Luka Doncic, who has yet to play in the series due to a strained left calf.

Spencer Dinwiddie scored 20 points, while Maxi Kleber (17 points) and Davis Bertans (15 points) each drained four 3-pointers.

Dorian Finney-Smith contributed 14 points, eight rebounds and four steals while Josh Green and Reggie Bullock each had 12 points as Dallas snapped an 11-game losing streak at Utah.

Game 4 in the best-of-seven series will be played Saturday in Salt Lake City.

Donovan Mitchell scored 32 points, Bojan Bogdanovic netted 24 and Mike Conley totaled 21 points, but the Jazz defense was stymied by the Doncic-less Mavs once again. The Mavericks punished Utah from outside with a very Jazz-like 18-of-42 shooting from 3-point range.

The Jazz trailed 68-51 at halftime before progressively trimming into the deficit, eventually pulling within 103-102 on a Conley step-back 3-pointer with 6:42 remaining.

However, Dinwiddie followed with consecutive baskets, and Dallas, which never trailed after the first quarter, came up with clutch plays the rest of the way.

Mitchell, who only had four points in the first half, began the second half with a three-point play and didn’t stop scoring until he had 18 in the quarter to lead the Jazz’s comeback attempt. Utah made much of the rally playing small ball with 6-foot-6 Eric Paschall on the court instead of 7-1 Rudy Gobert.

The Jazz pulled within nine late in the first half, but the Mavs closed on a 9-2 run thanks to two 3-pointers from Bertans and another from Dinwiddie to take their biggest lead of the game at 17 going into the break.

Brunson led four double-digit-scoring Mavs in the opening half with 15 points. Dallas started brilliantly from beyond the arc, hitting 13 of 25 long-distance attempts and making 50 percent from the floor before halftime. Meanwhile, the Jazz were only 3 of 9 from deep in the first two quarters while hitting 48.5 percent of their field-goal attempts.

Utah finished 9 of 28 from 3-point range.

–Field Level Media