With the Mavericks playing their second back-to-back of the season and Minnesota coming off two full days of rest, it was going to require a complete team effort to get past a talented Timberwolves team — and what a team effort it was.
In a bench performance to end all bench performances (Dallas’ bench contributed 45 points to the 121-114 win, compared to just 22 from the Minnesota bench), perhaps the brightest spot for the Mavericks’ reserves was Jalen Brunson’s fourth quarter onslaught. The second year guard was a perfect 6/6 from the field in the final frame, and amassed 14 of his 16 total points in the fourth.
Brunson’s final line was 16/4/3, and all in just 18 minutes. His playing time has been surprisingly erratic for a player who showed so much promise in his rookie season, and who gets such glowing reviews from the coaching staff and front office. Brunson used every minute he got tonight to power the Mavericks to a win after a wild, back and forth game.
At points along the way, both teams had double-digit leads, but at the start of the fourth quarter, Dallas found itself down by four, 80-84. Dallas’ outside shooting had left much to be desired. They were a paltry 3/23 from distance, a symptom of tired legs perhaps. However, Jalen Brunson jump-started the Dallas offense in the fourth with two threes that seemingly served as a dam-breaking moment, because the team hit eight triples in the frame to pull away from Minnesota.
The Mavericks are a team that, all season long, has been graced by big moments from role players. Dorian Finney-Smith and Delon Wright have both had hero moments. Tim Hardaway Jr. had a whole stretch of games where he seemed to be unstoppable. Today, in clutch time, it was Jalen Brunson who refused to allow the Mavericks to lose.
In a post-game interview with Skin Wade, Brunson mentioned the passing of a close friend from high school as part of the catalyst for his play tonight. (Before getting in a shot at his former-NBA-player father for good measure.) What a special moment for a player who has always stayed ready this season.