LAS VEGAS — The 12-day summer league training camp ended successfully for the Dallas Mavericks on Friday when they eked out a hard-fought 96-92 victory over the Washington Wizards at Cox Pavilion.
In tying a nice little bow on this camp, the Mavs ended summer league play with a 3-2 record and won’t convene again until the beginning of training camp in the fall.
But the Mavs finished the summer in style, winning a game that almost got away from them after they stumbled and blew an 18-point second-quarter lead.
Josh Adams and Jalen Jones paced the Mavs with 21 points apiece. However, it was a critical tip-in by Mitch Creek after Manu Lecomte missed his second of two free throw attempts that gave Dallas some breathing room and padded the Mavs’ lead to 94-89 with just 11.9 seconds remaining in the game.
“Those are winning plays,” summer league coach Jamahl Mosley said. “Nobody knew (Lecomte) was going to miss the free throw.
“(Creek) made that same play two games ago (against the Golden State Warriors). But since we won the game going away (by 91-71), you don’t notice it.”
Everyone noticed that impactful play by Creek this time, because it came at a crucial stage of the game. The Mavs, nonetheless, weren’t able to completely put this game on ice until Phil Greene buried two charity tosses with 5.5 seconds left to widen the lead to the final four points.
Adams was solid as he drained a 3-pointer for an 87-81 lead and later fed Lecomte, who nailed a 3-pointer in the corner, was fouled by Chris Chiozza and hit the free throw to complete the four-point play. Adams wound up 6-of-12 from the field in 27 minutes.
“He’s fearless,” Mosley said. “That’s the one thing about Josh is that he’s fearless.
“He’s got an NBA-ready and body. He’s really a tough, tough kid.”
It was a brisk workmanlike start for the Mavs, who looked extremely energized in busting out of the gate for a 29-13 lead after the first quarter.
Jones, who was waived after the game, was the main instigator for the Mavs early on as at one point he personally had more points than Washington — 12-10. That includes Jones barreling inside for a thunderous dunk and collecting a subsequent technical foul for saying something the referees didn’t like.
“Jalen Jones has been nothing but outstanding for us,” Mosley said. “From the hard play, from the little things, the defense, guarding the best player on the other team, he has done a great job for us.
“And how he plays sets the tone a lot of times every night.”
The early tone-setting by Jones helped the Mavs get into a comfort zone. Nevertheless, the Mavs’ offense sputtered profusely in the second quarter when they managed just six points.
“What I think happens a lot of times is that it’s a combination of them missing some shots and then us making a lot of shots,” said Mosley in analyzing the first quarter. “So you never get too high and you never get too low because then we come back and we score six points.
“You’ve got to understand that you’ve got to balance the game out as it goes.”
That lull the Mavs endured in the second quarter disappeared immediately in the second half when they promptly stepped on the gas and powered for 61 points, including 36 in the fourth quarter.
“I think we had to simplify (the offense) a little bit,” Mosley said. “I think everybody was trying to do a little bit more because they figured, ‘Ok, I’ve got to go through this.’
“We got a good lead early on, and so they felt a little comfortable. What we did was at halftime we had a conversation with them, we kept it simple, kept the same plays and guys stepped up to the plate.”
Neither team got much separation in the fourth quarter as the game got physical. But the Mavs made enough crucial plays down the stretch to hold off the Wizards.
Center Kostas Antetokounmpo and Lecomte each tallied 10 points apiece for the Mavs, who shot 47.2 percent from the field and outrebounded the Wizards,44-35. After the game, the Mavs signed Antetokounmpo to a two-way contract.
“I’m happy we ended up getting the “W’,” said Antetokounmpo, who was 3-of-4 from the field. “Every time I get on the court I just try to bring a lot of energy and hopefully I helped the team win.”
Creek, who finished with six points, six rebounds and two blocks, definitely did his share pitching in on the Mavs’ victory. Especially that crucial tip-in he negotiated late in the game.
“I’m known for just playing hard the same way on every possession and just trying to do whatever it takes to win games,” Creek said. “You try it a thousand times and sometimes it only works three or four times, so that was one of the cases.
“It was one in a thousand efforts and that effort came out and helped win the game for us, so I’m very lucky to be in that position.”
NOTES: The three brothers of center Kostas Antetokounmpo – including Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks – all sat courtside during Friday’s game. It was a rare treat for Kostas, and his brothers were cheering him on every time he did something meaningful on the court. “It was great,” Kostas said. “My brothers don’t get to see me all year play basketball, and I was happy they came to see my game.”. . .Center Ray Spalding finished Friday’s game with six points and eight rebounds in 17 minutes. “I didn’t play my best tonight,” Spalding said. “I fought through a couple of injuries, but overall I really enjoyed the experience.”. . .The Mavs beat the Wizards despite turning the ball over 22 times which led to 29 points for Washington. By contrast, the Mavs scored 14 points on 17 turnovers by the Wizards. . .After the game a lot of the Mavs players were saying their good-byes to each other as most of them already know it’s unlikely they’ll get invited to the team’s training camp in the fall. Some of the players will fly back to Dallas on Saturday morning, while others will fly from Las Vegas to their respective home town.