The Mavericks closed out their 2021 MGM Resorts Summer League on Tuesday with a thrilling 83-82 win to Miami.

It was, at long last, a payoff for the work that the summer-leaguers put in over the last two-plus weeks. They finished their stay in Las Vegas with a 1-4 record, but showed their resolve by fighting through a load of adversity.

They started with 11 players 10 days ago. In the second half against the Heat, they played with only six healthy players.

Not surprisingly, they ran out of gas at the end after leading by as much as 17 points.

Still, two free throws by Feron Hunt put the Mavericks up 81-80, but an offensive rebound led to a Miami bucket. Again, Hunt scored on a rebound of a Carlik Jones miss. Up by a point with 12 seconds left, the Mavericks had to sweat out Miami’s final possession.

They foiled the last shot as they contested a driving layup try by DeJon Jerreau for their first Vegas win.

“Just great,” said Carlik Jones. “We played together. We played hard. We stuck together. We kept telling each other every break, just find a way.”

Asked how much the win was about pride, Jones, a Louisville product, said: “Pretty much all of it. We didn’t really try to accept the excuse of losing guys. We just wanted to get the win, no matter what. Fina way to win. We got it done. We talked in the huddle, no matter what, we need a stop (on the last defensive possession).”

While the 1-4 record won’t blow anybody away, the Mavericks had two of their games go to overtime. By the end, only one of the starters from the first couple games in Las Vegas was available.

So while the overall results weren’t great, there were nuggets of success. And important information, too.

Particularly when it comes to clues about how the Mavericks will play under new coach Jason Kidd.

The strategic seeds that were planted in the hot Las Vegas sun will look a lot different when they are grown up and sown by the Mavericks’ heavy lifters when training camp convenes next month. Summer-team coach Greg St. Jean said it was hard to simulate what a Kidd-coached team will look like. But there were things that should transfer well to training camp next month.

“The initial intent was to come out and try to replicate the regular team as much as possible,” St. Jean said. “We’ve got some good, talented players on this roster. But we don’t have Luka Dončić, Kristaps Porzingis or Tim Hardaway Jr. So it’s going to be a little modified.

“But I do think one of the areas that will carry over is our care factor. Nobody can come and watch games 2 through 5 and say the Dallas Mavericks didn’t compete and play hard. And that’s going to be a staple, I think, of Jason Kidd’s Dallas Mavericks – a high care factor on the defensive end and a competitive edge. Hopefully that will carry over to great execution and ball movement on the offensive end.”

That style was tougher to achieve when the Mavericks were down to six players in the second half Tuesday. But they refused to slow down. They played uptempo early, then fought through the fatigue down the stretch.

Jones led them with 21 points to cap a summer league when he steadily improved. There are no guarantees he’ll end up in training camp, but it certainly is a possibility. Capable playmakers are always in demand.

“Carlik obviously got better as the week went on,” St. Jean said. “We put the ball in his hands more and a lot of good things happened. I thought he had great poise despite some difficult circumstances with limited bodies.

“I think he did a really good job showcasing what he can do and I think there’s a chance that he could be with us. But we’ll see over time. We’re going to take a little time to evaluate this group as well as the other summer league players on other rosters, but Carlik represented himself really well this week.”

As did SMU-ex Hunt, who had 10 points and six rebounds. In the first half, he had a block, then knocked in a 3-pointer with 1:30 left in the first half as the Mavericks went up 49-33. This came after Devontae Shuler, who had 16 points, nearly had a massive one-handed throw-down on a fast break that was stopped by a Miami defender, but drew huge responses from the fans and the Mavericks’ bench.

Nate Hinton went out late in the first half with lower back tightness. That set the table for guard Jones and center Robert Franks (18 points) to take charge. They controlled play and kept the Mavericks ahead by double figures most of the second half.

The Heat kept coming, but the Mavericks had the resolve to ground out their only summer-league win.

Twitter: @ESefko


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