Togashi Turns Heads at Summer League
Point guard Yuki Togashi has quickly become a fan favorite at Las Vegas Summer League.
LAS VEGAS — The stakes were once again high for the Dallas Mavericks’ summer-league squad Wednesday as the competition shifted into tournament play.
After going through pool play with a 2-1 mark, the 10th-seeded Mavericks looked to advance in the single-elimination tournament against the 23rd-seeded Charlotte Hornets. The Mavs also tried to build on back-to-back wins, carrying over the momentum of Monday’s 88-57 rout of Toronto.
But, after their most dominant victory, the Mavericks would find themselves having to stage an epic comeback, overcoming a 17-point halftime deficit but only to fall to an 82-81 defeat on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
“I’m proud of the guys and the team. They fought their tails off,” Mavs summer-league head coach Kaleb Canales said after the team was eliminated from the winner’s bracket with the loss. “You know, it’s tough to swallow right now.”
Sticking with the starting lineup of point guard Gal Mekel, sharpshooter Chris Goulding, swingman Ricky Ledo, power forward Ivan Johnson and center Bernard James, the Mavericks would try to keep the Hornets winless in summer-league play. However, the Mavs would quickly find themselves on the downside of the scoreboard, trailing 19-15 after one quarter of play.
“For us, it was our defense. I don’t think we established our presence early in the game, especially in the first seven minutes. And I thought that carried over to our offense,” Canales confessed.
Staying in the game behind undersized point guard Yuki Togashi’s timely outside shooting, the Mavs would hang around early in the second quarter. Still, the Mavericks would slide into a double-digit hole midway through the period.
Frustration then boiled over for the young Mavericks, leading to a technical foul call on Ledo for arguing with officials. Shortly afterwards the Hornets surged into the halftime intermission with the Mavericks trailing by 17, 53-36.
“We didn’t have energy,” Mekel said of the first half. “We came, we were sloppy, and it’s not easy to play here mentally day after day after day. Some days you come and you don’t have it right away, but I’m really happy that we showed character and we really fought in the second half.”
Stiffening on the defensive end of the floor, the Mavs would try to claw their way back into the game in the third quarter. Johnson led the charge, providing a spark in the interior on defense until Mekel’s 3-pointer brought the Mavericks to within 12, 55-43, with 6:21 left in the period.
Mekel wouldn’t stop there, collecting a pass from Ledo and converting a three-point play to bring the Mavs within single digits. Togashi took matters from there, swishing a floater in the lane as the Mavs pushed into the fourth down 64-55.
The momentum would be short-lived, however, as the Hornets again gained control in the final quarter. Johnson was then ejected from the game with 7:56 remaining for once again arguing with officials, removing the Mavericks’ defensive anchor.
But the Mavericks would continue to fight as Goulding’s perimeter shooting and James’ toughness inside brought the team to within two. Eric Griffin’s 3-pointer was then followed by another long-range bomb by Goulding, tying the game at 77-all with 3:19 left to decide a winner.
Ledo then shook off a sluggish shooting performance to split a pair of free throws, giving the Mavs a 78-77 edge with 2:01 remaining. Mekel’s two free throws with 14.0 seconds left then gave the Mavericks some breathing room. However, after a pair at the line by rookie Noah Vonleh brought the Hornets within one, Mekel had a 1-of-2 trip at the line. Roberto Nelson then came down at the other end of the floor, rattling in a 3-pointer over Mekel as time expired to eliminate the Mavericks from championship consideration.
“I think we lost the game obviously in the first half,” Mekel confessed. “It was an unbelievable comeback and we really played hard in the second half. I’m disappointed I didn’t hit both free throws, and in the end we did everything right. I mean, it was a super tough shot. Two guys contested it and it’s nothing you can do.”
Scoring 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting, Mekel led the Mavs in a losing effort with five rebounds and six assists to boot. Togashi added 12 points off the bench, matching Goulding and James in the first unit.
Former Texas Legends swingman P.J. Hairston led the Hornets with 18 points on just 4-of-18 shooting. The Hornets also overcame their 22 turnovers by outshooting the Mavs, connecting on 40.3 percent from the field to better Dallas’ 36.8 percent, in addition to a 40-34 rebounding margin.
The Mavs will now play their final summer-league outing on Friday at 3 p.m. CT against the Phoenix Suns.
|Justin Brownlee, F||25||9||1||0||0||5||5||0||0||1||-3||4-6||1-2||0-0|
|Noah Vonleh, F||29||14||0||0||2||10||7||3||3||5||-3||4-11||0-1||6-8|
|Cody Zeller, C||20||13||1||1||0||5||4||1||3||6||8||6-6||0-0||1-4|
|Mickey McConnell, G||25||6||3||2||0||1||1||0||1||6||1||1-5||0-0||4-4|
|PJ Hairston, G||32||18||1||2||0||5||4||1||4||5||2||4-18||2-7||8-9|
|Ricky Ledo, F||35||9||3||1||0||3||2||1||5||3||2||2-16||1-7||4-7|
|Ivan Johnson, F||18||9||0||3||1||4||3||1||0||4||-6||2-8||1-4||4-4|
|Bernard James, C||28||12||1||2||1||7||4||3||3||3||11||4-9||0-0||4-6|
|Chris Goulding, G||25||12||2||2||0||4||4||0||2||3||3||4-9||4-6||0-0|
|Gal Mekel, G||29||17||6||0||0||5||5||0||2||3||5||5-7||1-2||6-9|
Ricky Ledo runs the break and finds Gal Mekel who beats his defender converting the layup.
Small Guy, Big Shot
With the shotclock winding down, Yuki Togashi drives into the lane and hits the high arcing floater.