LAS VEGAS – This wasn’t exactly what the Dallas Mavericks envisioned when they left North Texas 10 days ago.
A furious rally from the Mavs came up short Saturday night, and they left the Thomas & Mack Center on the short end of a 95-84 summer league score to the Los Angeles Lakers. The loss meant the Mavs finished summer league play winless at 0-5.
The Mavs stumbled out of the gate and trailed, 52-26, late in the second quarter. But they managed to crawl back to within 83-78 after Miye Oni drilled a three-pointer off a feed from Jaden Harden with 5:06 remaining in the game.
On the ensuing trip up the court, Oni had a chance to make it a one-possession game. However, he misfired on a three-point attempt and the Lakers went on to build their lead to 90-78 with four minutes left and never looked back.
“We fought,” summer league coach Jared Dudley said. “Down 26 (points) at one point, they could have folded — last game.
“(The comeback) showed you the character of this team. They kept fighting.”
A. J. Lawson led the Mavs with 19 points and five rebounds, Moses Wright collected 17 points and six boards, Jaden Hardy scored 15 points, and Jerrick Harding finished with 11 points and five assists.
The Mavs were handcuffed most of the night because they turned the ball over 19 times. And until the second half, they had problems keeping the Lakers out of the paint.
“They had 60 points in the paint,” Dudley said. “They were getting into the teeth of our defense.
“I thought the good adjustment was us trapping on the pick-and-roll in the second half, and we did that and got out on the break and cut it to (five) at one point and had a chance. But when you use so much energy to try to get back in the game, it’s hard to be able to maintain that for that last 20 minutes.”
Hardy, who uncharacteristically turned the ball over seven times, played high school basketball in nearby Henderson, Nev., and had several family members and friends on hand for all five games the Mavs played here. So to walk away empty-handed. . .
“It was a disappointment,” Hardy said. “But I feel like we did come out here and we played together and we played the right way, and I feel like we gave a good effort.”
Harding, who converted 4-of-13 shots, also was frustrated that the Mavs weren’t able to take at least one win back home to Dallas.
“It was very disappointing,” he said. “I feel like I’m super competitive, and I feel like my teammates are, too.
“Not winning a game, it’s hard. But at the same time it’s really tough putting together a team in (less than two weeks). You’re trying to build chemistry. It’s tough. It’s just tough.”
Still, Dudley, who was playing with the Lakers this time last season before retiring and joining coach Jason Kidd’s coaching staff last August, tried to put everything in its proper perspective.
“For me, it was a fun game,” Dudley said. “When you get down so much in that first half, you’ve got to be perfect.
“You make your run, and they finally hit some key shots in the fourth.”
BRIEFLY: In summing up his play in the five games, guard Jaden Hardy said: “I feel like I did pretty good. I was just coming in and trying to do what the coaching staff wanted me to do, play the right way, make the right play and then really just focusing in on my defense and trying to become a better defender.” Hardy scored 28 points in the July 8 summer league opener against the Chicago Bulls. Summer league coach Jared Dudley said of Hardy: “Overall, I think he had some rookie ups and downs. I think he had a great first game. I think he struggled the next couple of games, but I thought he finished up well here.”. .When A. J. Lawson punctuated summer league play with a hammer dunk to close out Saturday’s scoring, Jerrick Harding said: ”That’s what I expect from him. Usually he jumps off one foot. I was surprised by the two feet (dunk). But he has bounce. Serious bounce.”. .The next time the Mavs will gather, it’ll be in late September for Media Day and the start of training camp.
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