Brun­son do­ing part to keep it pos­i­tive

Amid los­ing, Brun­son’s looked like first-round ta­lent in lim­ited ac­tion

The Dallas Morning News - - Sports Day -

Ed­die Sefko: Jalen Brun­son is not get­ting the play­ing min­utes or is as her­alded as fel­low rookie Luka Don­cic, but the for­mer Vil­lanova star is re­main­ing up­beat and show­ing the Mav­er­icks his re­siliency and his skills. Okla. City at Mav­er­icks 8 p.m. to­day (FSSW)

Jalen Brun­son, the rookie out of Vil­lanova, is a lot like Luka Don­cic in one re­spect.

He’s not used to los­ing a lot of games.

While in col­lege for three sea­sons, Brun­son won two NCAA cham­pi­onships and lost a grand to­tal of 13 games. He won 101.

Luka Don­cic? He went

34-5 last sea­son with Real Madrid.

Th­ese are guys who have not done a lot of los­ing in their bas­ket­ball ca­reers. Un­til now as they weather the 3-8 storm that the Mav­er­icks find them­selves in.

“It’s an ex­pe­ri­ence,” Brun­son said. “But I guess it’s part of grow­ing up as well. Not ev­ery­thing in life is go­ing to be great. There are go­ing to be some bumps in the road. We’re ob­vi­ously young. But you got to stay pos­i­tive.

“It’s hard. This league is hard. You just got to keep push­ing.”

The bot­tom line is that Brun­son and Don­cic are learn­ing how to deal with the other side of the coin. And that’s OK — as long as they don’t get com­fort­able with los­ing.

“It’s def­i­nitely dif­fer­ent for them,” J.J. Barea said. “The good thing is they are win­ners. But it’s def­i­nitely a learn­ing process. They just got to stay with it.”

Rick Carlisle was asked Fri­day if he has to guard against the plethora of early-sea­son losses hav­ing a bad im­pact on the young play­ers.

His an­swer sug­gests there’s no chance of that.

“No­body’s ac­cept­ing it,” Carlisle said. “That’s not how we do busi­ness here. We’re not happy with the first 11 games. We’re work­ing hard to grow closer to­gether and make daily im­prove­ments.

“And we’re not go­ing to let our young guys get down or dis­ap­pointed if we’re los­ing games. And we’re cer­tainly not go­ing to ac­cept any level of ac­cep­tance of los­ing. That’s just not how we op­er­ate here.”

The good news is that Brun­son, while not as young as Don­cic, is sim­i­lar in that both are young and re­silient. They don’t linger on rocky mo­ments.

And both have been very solid in their rookie sea­sons.

Every­body ex­pected Don­cic to be a strong cor­ner­stone for the fran­chise, and he has not dis­ap­pointed.

In Brun­son, the Mav­er­icks thought they had a keeper, and through the first few weeks of the sea­son, he’s show­ing that he prob­a­bly should have been a first-round pick. The Mav­er­icks are glad he wasn’t.

Brun­son’s not burn­ing up the league sta­tis­ti­cally like Don­cic, but he’s not get­ting heavy min­utes like Don­cic, ei­ther.

Brun­son is av­er­ag­ing 4.8 points, 1.3 re­bounds and 1.3 as­sists in 14 min­utes per game.

At Utah on Wed­nes­day, he had the most im­pact­ful 31 sec­onds of his sea­son when he scored, quickly stole an in­bounds pass from Derrick Fa­vors and got a cheap layup 4 sec­onds later. Then on the next pos­ses­sion, he splashed in a 3-pointer.

It didn’t lead to a Mav­er­icks’ win, but those seven quick points did get them back within 101-92 in a game that had seemed hope­lessly out of reach. It was the most ef­fec­tive stretch for any Mav­er­ick in the game. He fin­ished with 11 points, two re­bounds and two as­sists in 16 min­utes. The Mav­er­icks were nine points to the good when he was on the floor.

“Brun­son was a very pos­i­tive fac­tor in the game,” Carlisle said. “A good job at both ends. He’s plus-nine in 15 min­utes. That tells you he was ready to play. We need those kind of per­for­mances from top to bot­tom.”

Har­ris re­turn­ing? Devin Har­ris has been out since play­ing six min­utes in the first half of the sea­son opener at Phoenix, where he strained his left ham­string.

It’s been just over three weeks and coach Rick Carlisle said that Har­ris’ re­turn could come as soon as Sat­ur­day night against Ok­la­homa City.

“We’ll know more in the morn­ing,” Carlisle said af­ter Fri­day’s work­out. “He had a nice prac­tice to­day. So there’s cer­tainly a chance. But a lot of th­ese things are: see how he wakes up and see how Mother Na­ture treats him dur­ing sleep time.”

Har­ris has said he wants to be able to run com­fort­ably with­out any fa­vor­ing of or fa­tigue in his leg. For a team that has strug­gled in many areas, his re­turn would be a big boost.

“At­tack­ing, play-mak­ing vet­er­ans that play both ends of the floor have great value in this league and on our team,” Carlisle said. “And ex­pe­ri­ence is a valu­able com­mod­ity when you’re work­ing through chal­lenges. So we’ll see if he’s ready to­mor­row.”

Ryan Michalesko/staff Pho­tog­ra­pher

Mav­er­icks rookie Jalen Brun­son (right), driv­ing past Utah’s Dante Exum, is av­er­ag­ing 4.8 points, 1.3 re­bounds and 1.3 as­sists in 14 min­utes per game and also proves a de­fen­sive pres­ence.

Ese­fko@dal­las­news.com

ED­DIE SEFKO

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