LAS VEGAS – As he juked a defender, then pulled the string on his move for a step-back jumper that nestled softly into the net, Jaden Hardy smiled and his teammates yelped.

Yes, the kid had himself a day to remember in his NBA Summer League debut.

The second-round draftee dropped in 28 points on Friday afternoon at Thomas & Mack Center and did a lot of things very well and a few things not so well – absolutely expected out of a rookie getting his first taste of NBA competition.

The Mavericks dropped a 100-99 overtime heartbreaker to the Chicago Bulls in their summer-league opener, but it was a game that provided everybody with a chance to glimpse the potential of Hardy, the 6-4 guard who the Mavericks traded to get with the 37th pick in last month’s draft.

He finished with 28 points, four rebounds and three assists. But he also had six turnovers, including a pair of costly ones at the end of regulation and in overtime.

Still, the reviews were glowing.

“He had a great game until the very end,” said owner Mark Cuban, who had a front-row seat for the rookie’s unveiling. “He had a couple turnovers, but you can just see that he’s got patience, he’s got great demeanor, he plays hard – all the things you want to see in a rookie. For his first summer-league game, there’s a lot to be excited.”

Hardy clearly outplayed Chicago’s Dalen Terry, their first-round pick (18th overall), who had nine points and also six turnovers in a game that was understandably ragged as both teams have had only a few days of practice together before convening in Las Vegas.

Hardy, who went to high school in nearby Henderson, Nev., had a slew of family, friends and supporters in the stands. Summer-league head coach Greg St. Jean said it had to be a “pinch yourself” moment for Hardy. And that it was.

“It feels great to be able to come back home and play in front of my family and friends and people I went to school with. It’s great,” he said. “I’m not even sure (how many supporters) were here. I can’t even give you a guess.”

And while he was working on the court, Maverick teammates Maxi Kleber, Tim Hardaway Jr., Theo Pinson, Christian Wood, Dorian Finney-Smith and others were keeping close watch from across the court.

It was Hardy’s first time to meet most of them, he said.

And, similarly, it was his first time in an NBA-type game to have the ball in his hands with the game on the line.

“Jaden did a great job,” St. Jean said. “That’s part of the process here – putting him in those situations. Being able to then review the film and talk through it. People might remember a couple of those plays (at the end), but at the same time, he had 28 points and made a lot of big time plays to keep us in it and keep our lead. It’s a great start for him and we’re going to learn a lot.

“It’s all good for our foundation building. These situations, we can’t simulate that in practice. So all of this is teaching moments for us. And I want to make it clear: he played a phenomenal game. Those (late turnovers) might stand out. There were a couple of pick-six turnovers, but we had a bunch of turnovers. He played a great game.

In the second half, Hardy nailed three consecutive shots from the perimeter. Then, with the defense pressing up against him, he got around the defenders and drew a foul on a drive to the rim.

Then, he had a couple of possessions when he tried to drive, and the ball was tipped away.

“It’s a learning experience – I’m still learning the game,” he said. “It’s only going to make me better in the long run. Those (late turnovers) for sure were learning experiences. All I can do is watch the film and learn from them.

“And they (the coaching staff) really want to help me.”

As president of basketball operations and general manager Nico Harrison said: “I thought was good. He’s still young. It’s his first game so you don’t want to put too much stock in it. But you can clearly tell he can play at a high level.”

Hardy shot 9-of-19 from the field, including 7-of-12 from inside the 3-point arc.

He was just 2-of-7 from distance, but he made several shots from midrange.

“Oh, he can shoot the ball,” Cuban said. “You can just tell, the release, the arc on it, the step-back. He’s shifty, he can get to places in the paint, so there’s a lot of good things.”

COACHING CARROUSEL: St. Jean said after Friday’s game that he will be stepping aside as summer-league head coach.

This is by design.

“This is an awesome experience,” he said. “Summer League is a phenomenal opportunity for the players, the coaches, the staff. I’m very blessed that our organization allowed me to coach today’s game.

“This is going to be the last game I’m coaching. We’re going to have our G-League coach, Georege Galanopoulos (of the Texas Legends) coach as well as one of our assistant coaches Jared Dudley, so I’m a one-and-done – 0-1, we’ll get the good coaches in here.”

St. Jean said he will be analyzing the rest of summer league with the other coaches and said that it makes sense that Galanopoulos would get a chance to coach a game or two.

“He’s our G-League coach and a lot of these guys might end up playing in the G-League for us,” St. Jean said. “And coach Dudley. This is first year as a coach and it is a great opportunity for him to get his first head-coaching repetitions. So this is the best of both worlds.”

BRIEFLY: Coach Jason Kidd made an appearance on the telecast of Friday’s game and said he could envision both JaVale McGee and Christian Wood in the starting lineup. That, and much more, will be decided when camp opens in late September . . . After three consecutive practice days, including before their travel to Las Vegas on Thursday, then playing Friday, the Mavericks will get a rest day on Saturday before practicing again on Sunday. Their second summer-league game is Monday at 9 p.m. against Utah on NBA TV . . . Forward A.J. Lawson was the shooting star on Friday, hitting 6-of-11 3-pointers on his way to 28 points, matching Hardy for high-point honors . . . Rebounding was an issue for the Mavericks last season. It remained an issue in summer league as the Bulls out-rebounded them 46-37. The Bulls were led by big man Marko Simonovic with 27 points and 13 rebounds.

Twitter: @ESefko

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