Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00) defends against a shot by Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson (13) in the second half of Game 2 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Monday, April 18, 2022, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
DALLAS (AP) — Jalen Brunson scored a career-high 41 points, Maxi Kleber had 25 with eight of Dallas’ playoff-record 22 made 3-pointers and the Mavericks, without superstar Luka Doncic, evened up their first-round series with a 110-104 win over the Utah Jazz in Game 2 on Monday night.
The Mavericks, in danger of dropping the first two games after opening the playoffs with home-court advantage for the first time since their NBA title 11 years ago, overcame a 10-point deficit after halftime.
Kleber, who had made only 19% of his 3-point attempts since the All-Star break, was 8-of-11 from beyond the arc when the Mavs needed them the most. His 3-pointer with 4:21 put Dallas ahead to stay at 99-98, and he then added another on the next possession.
“I started this morning, I was talking to (Finney-Smith) and I told him, ‘Doe, I’m going to let 10 3s fly tonight.’ And he said, ‘That’s my dog.’ And that kind of set the tone for the day,” Kleber said. “The mindset is we know they’re going to leave certain guys open to shoot. We’ve just got to let it fly.”
Game 3 is Thursday night in Utah, where Dallas has lost its last 11 games.
“We did what we had to do, which was won tonight. But we were only focused on tonight,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. “We understand what’s in front of us, what’s coming. It’s going to be a hostile environment. They play extremely well at home.”
Brunson, the starting point guard with Doncic out, became the fifth Dallas player to score 40 points in a playoff game. Doncic was one of the previous four to do that.
Donovan Mitchell had 34 points for Utah, while Bojan Bogdanovic had 25 and Jordan Clarkson 21. Rudy Gobert had eight points and 17 rebounds.
A 3-pointer by Clarkson put the Jazz up 60-50 early in the third quarter, and the only time Dallas led in that quarter was when Kleber hit a 3 with two minutes left for a 74-73 lead. But Bogdanovic then hit a 3, and the Jazz led 81-74 at the end of the third after a basket by Mitchell.
Dallas didn’t lead again until a 3 by Dorian Finney-Smith with 6:12 left.
Doncic was still out because of a strained left calf he suffered in the regular season finale eight days earlier. Coach Jason Kidd said before the game that the 23-year-old All-Star was making progress, “definitely going in the right direction” and doing more each day.
Brunson, who had 24 points when the Mavs lost 99-93 in Game 1, made his first five shots — with three 3s — in the first 6 minutes. He already had 13 points with Dallas up 16-9, then missed a shot before scoring the next Mavs basket by accelerating through the defense for a layup.
“He didn’t wait. He took up the space and was aggressive from the jump ball,” Kidd said. “We talked about it earlier. Don’t wait. Get to your spot and do what you do best. I thought he ran the team extremely well.”
Jazz: Utah wiped out a five-point deficit in the final minute of of the first quarter to tie the game at 24l. The sequence started with Gobert’s putback dunk. The 7-foot-1 center, the NBA’s top defensive player three of the previous four seasons who finished third for this season’s award announced earlier Monday, then blocked what looked like was going to be an easy inside basket by Josh Green. Then came a 3-pointer from Clarkson, who initially was tripped up moving through the lane. He got the pass off, and then got up and got the ball back to hit from the left corner.
Mavericks: The Mavs finished 21 of 41 on 3s (51.2%) and shot 50% overall (36 of 72). .. Dallas led the NBA during the regular season with 17 wins after coming back from deficits of at least 10 points. … Dwight Powell got called for a foul against Gobert, who was trying to convert a lob pass into a basket midway through the third quarter. The Dallas crowd reacted loudly to the call, and was even louder when Gobert then missed both free throws.