LAS VEGAS — The Mavericks may not be having a lot of success in terms of victories at the MGM Resorts Summer League, but nobody can doubt their level of fight.
Things got heated with just over 3 minutes left in Sunday’s 86-70 loss to Sacramento when Kings’ forward Chimezie Metu took offense to a foul committed by the Mavericks’ Eugene Omoruyi. Metu popped off the ground and then popped Omoruyi in the face with what appeared to be a closed fist.
Omoruyi had to be restrained by several Mavericks, including coach Greg St. Jean. The scene calmed down as the officials gathered for a lengthy review, after which the foul on Omoruyi was upgraded to a flagrant-2, Metu’s actions were deemed to be a foul with a fist and both players were ejected.
It did not appear to be a dirty play when Omoruyi tried to stop a one-handed dunk by Metu. But the heat-of-the-moment reaction was serious as well as unexpected.
“From my angle, I was always taught that we don’t give up easy dunks like that,” said guard Carlik Jones, who led the Mavericks with 18 points and four assists. “I don’t think his intentions were to hurt him. It was just him stepping up and making a hard play on the ball and prevent the dunk.
“I understand where the guy’s anger is coming from – felt like he might have got undercut. But I definitely feel like he could have handled it different. I personally thought he might have given a shove and walked away, but he ended up throwing a punch and it was just surprising. I get both sides of it. But I definitely think it could have been handled better.”
St. Jean said that Omoruyi was fine physically after the game, but that the confrontation obviously had him shook up.
“Obviously, he’s frustrated about what happened,” St. Jean said. “He’s a competitive young man. Nobody likes to have that happen but I think he’ll be fine for the next game.
“We got to continue to keep our composure. Those are not the times of what you’re looking for in competition. But it happens. And when it does, we’re trying to teach them to be professionals. And I thought our guys for the most part did keep their composure. I don’t think he was trying to hurt anybody. Obviously, things got a little escalated. Our guys in the locker room afterward were frustrated, but they’re going to be professionals as best they can and come out and play the next game.”
Meanwhile, the Mavericks continued to compete, despite being down to six healthy players by the end of Sunday’s game.
“We’re just playing hard and defending as a team,” said Jones. “Not just one person. It kind of goes back to our first game (a 22-point loss to Philadelphia). Our first game was ugly, but we watched film and talked as a team. We all decided as a team to put our foot down and not let that happen again. But we’re really thirsty for a win.”
They came up short once again on Sunday, but it was a difficult position that they were in — playing the second of back-to-back games and going against the strong Sacramento summer squad that has yet to lose in the MGM Resorts Summer League (4-0).
Plus, the Mavericks had just nine healthy players to start and because of injuries and the ejection, only six were available for the final three minutes. St. Jean said there were no immediate medical updates on E.J Onu, who departed in the first half with a left knee injury.
The Mavericks fell to 0-4 in the summer league. They will close out summer league play Tuesday against Miami at 2 p.m. Dallas time on ESPNU.