Griffin Monster DunkThe Mavericks' Eric Griffin slashes and elevates for the monster facial.
LAS VEGAS — After a four-day mini camp in Dallas sharpened their skills, it was finally time for the Mavericks’ summer-league squad to square off against an opposing team.
Going up against the New York Knicks and a familiar face, the Mavericks suited up for the first time as a team Friday to begin the NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League. The Mavs also looked for a way to slow down former first-round acquisition Shane Larkin, who attempted to showcase his own skills against his old team after being included in the trade on the eve of last month’s draft that brought back center Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to Dallas.
And although the Mavericks (0-1) would keep Larkin in check for most of the game, the Dallas team would also taste the bitterness of defeat for the first time following a 76-64 loss.
“I thought we had great stretches, but I didn’t think the consistency was there that we needed,” Mavs summer-league head coach Kaleb Canales said after the defeat.
He added: “Offensively, we turned the ball over and we didn’t give ourselves a chance. We didn’t shoot the ball well, but 18 turnovers is too much.”
Using a first-string lineup of point guard Gal Mekel, Aussie sharpshooter Chris Goulding, swingman Ricky Ledo, power forward Ivan Johnson and center Bernard James, the Mavericks looked to get off to a fast start. However, despite an early lead and a thunderous slam by forward Eric Griffin, the Mavs would find themselves on the downside of a 17-16 score following the first quarter.
With second-year standout Tim Hardaway Jr. continuing to lead the Knicks’ offensive attack en route to a 13-point first half, the Mavs turned to Ledo at the other end of the floor. James then lent some assistance inside, throwing down a one-handed dunk just before the end of the half to bring the Mavericks within three, 34-31.
After needing every bit of James’ 11 points in the first half to remain afloat, the Mavs began the third quarter by sharing the wealth. Still, the Knicks (1-0) continued to have a stranglehold on the scoreboard following rookie Cleanthony Early’s dunk over Johnson as New York surged ahead by double figures before taking a 55-46 lead into the fourth.
Draining a triple with 6:48 left on the clock, Goulding tried to shoot the Mavs back into the game while pulling the Dallas team to within six, 60-54. But Larkin quickly answered, driving in for a three-point play over Johnson as the Knicks regained control.
The Mavs wouldn’t recover from there.
Scoring 15 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and registering four blocked shots in a losing cause, James did his best to lead the Mavs.
“I just want to go out and play hard,” the free-agent big man said of his performance. “And I just want to win, really. That’s the goal. I feel like if you have that mindset everything else will take care of itself. You’ll get a contract and you’ll stay in the league. So, that’s really the way I’m going about it.”
Ledo added 14 points on 4-of-14 shooting to boost the Mavericks’ offensive attack. Mekel also recorded 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Meanwhile, Hardaway Jr. led the Knicks with 25 points 6-of-15 shooting and Early pitched in 13 points. Larkin finished with 10 points, five rebounds and five assists
And although the Mavericks slightly outshot the Knicks for the game, 40.4 percent to 39.1 percent, in addition to a 27-26 rebounding edge, Dallas couldn’t overcome its 18 turnovers.
“Well, 18 turnovers are hard to overcome,” Canales confessed. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a regular-season game or a summer-league game. I thought we competed, I thought we put ourselves in a good situation there in the second half … and then we just kind of compounded mistakes by turning the ball over. I don’t think you can beat a team turning the ball over 18 times a game, so that put us in the hole.”
“It’s a learning experience,” Ledo added. “I know our guys just got together, so in the next couple of games it should come together.”
The Mavericks will now try to bounce back on Saturday, taking on the Minnesota Timberwolves at 5:30 p.m. CT.
New York Knicks
|Cleanthony Early, F||27||5-10||3-4||0-0||0||1||1||0||0||2||0||2||0||13|
|Cole Aldrich, F||31||2-4||0-0||5-6||5||10||15||2||0||3||0||2||9||9|
|Cameron Moore, C||20||0-2||0-0||0-0||0||2||2||1||0||1||0||1||8||0|
|Tim Hardaway Jr., G||25||6-15||3-10||10-12||1||4||5||2||0||0||4||2||14||25|
|Shane Larkin, G||30||4-9||1-4||1-1||1||4||5||5||4||0||2||2||16||10|
|Ricky Ledo, F||34||4-14||1-4||5-9||0||5||5||2||1||0||6||3||-11||14|
|Ivan Johnson, F||28||3-9||1-6||2-2||0||3||3||0||2||0||4||6||-29||9|
|Bernard James, C||28||7-9||0-0||1-1||3||7||10||1||1||4||3||5||-10||15|
|Chris Goulding, G||32||2-8||2-7||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||4||-19||6|
|Gal Mekel, G||34||3-8||0-1||4-5||0||7||7||4||0||0||1||3||-11||10|