DALLAS - In the Dallas Mavericks' final game before the All-Star break, without their All-Star, the Mavs (18-16) flexed their depth to beat the OKC Thunder, 87-78.
Mavs guard Jalen Brunson started in place of MVP-candidate Luka Doncic, who sat with lower back tightness. It marks only Doncic's second game missed this season so far. Without Luka magic, the game lacked the normal pizzazz that Mavs fans have grown accustomed to.
Especially in the first quarter when Dallas went 1-of-12 (8.3%) from three-point range. The Mavs woes from beyond-the-arc continued, sinking as low as 1-of-22 (4.5%) in the third quarter. Yet, Dallas still held the lead over the Thunder at the half, 49-42.
Brunson, the 2018 AP College Player of the Year who lead Villanova to its second national title in three seasons, proved to be a solid offensive option for the Mavs. His efforts were clear - diving and hustling all over the court - to finish with 11 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.
Tim Hardaway Jr. was the only Mav to make a three-pointer through almost the entire third quarter. After missing 21 of their first 22 from beyond-the arc, the Mavs found their legs from three and went on a run to score four straight. Hardaway Jr. finished with 19 points, Josh Richardson scored 16 points and Kristaps Porzingis added 19 points and 13 rebounds.
The Mavs started knocking down threes and out-rebounded OKC 55-45, to run away with the victory-by-committee.
Next up, the Mavs enjoy a week off during for the All-Star break and host the San Antonio Spurs on March 10 at 7:30 p.m. CT.
Doncic will be busy starting his second-consecutive All-Star game and competing in the Skills Competition. Coach Rick Carlisle said he expects Doncic to still participate in the All-Star weekend in Atlanta.