Brunson Duels LaVine in Doncic's Absence; Mavs Fall to Bulls, 118-108

Missing Luka Doncic, the Dallas Mavericks couldn't overcome missed free throws and rebounding woes, as they watched Zach LaVine and the Chicago Bulls run away with a 118-108 win, despite the big-time play of Jalen Brunson.
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Luka Doncic, who had his best game of this young season on Friday night against the Miami Heat, was a late scratch for the Dallas Mavericks' matchup with the Chicago Bulls on Sunday due to a left quad contusion. 

With both Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis out, backup point guard Jalen Brunson stepped up a big way to keep the Mavs competitive, despite Dallas not being able to overcome Zach LaVine's 39 points in a 118-108 loss.

Coming into this game, not many people expected a LaVine vs. Brunson shootout, but that's exactly what we got, with the scoring advantage going to LaVine. The hot shooting started early in the first quarter, and by halftime, LaVine had put up 29 points, and Brunson had 18 points and four assists. 

READ MORE: Mavs Star Luka Doncic Is '1 Away' From Milestone - But OUT For Bulls

READ MORE: Mavs Talk: ‘We Haven't Done S---,' Says Carlisle After Win

LaVine finished with 39 points, six rebounds, and five assists. Brunson finished with 31 points on 11-of-17 shooting to go with seven assists and five rebounds. Brunson was three points away from matching his career-high of 34 points.

As has been the case all season, rebounding hurt the Mavs in this one. Dallas lost the rebounding battle to Chicago, 48-41. Free throws also haunted the Mavs in this game, as only went 19-of-27  from the stripe. 

In a game that was decided by just 10 points, the missed free throws and second-chance points given up to the Bulls proved to be too much for the Mavs to overcome. Dallas is now 2-4 on the season.

Said Brunson: "Obviously, we’re very capable of doing a lot better, no doubt. We’ve just got to bring it every night. That’s our challenge right now.”

The Mavs will have a quick turnaround after this one, as they fly to Houston to take on James Harden and the Rockets in what will be Dallas' first back-to-back of the season. 

If Doncic is able to return, he'll be at least one Maverick with fresh legs on the second game in two nights. Could Kristaps Porzingis potentially be making his season debut in this one? We'll find out very soon, so stay tuned to DallasBasketball.com.