Mavs’ Dorian Finney-Smith looks to be vocal leader, expand his game during Las Vegas summer league

Practice Report: Dorian Finney-Smith

Mavs F Dorian Finney-Smith dishes on gearing up for the Las Vegas summer league, Dennis Smith Jr. and more.

DALLAS — Despite seeing the most time on the court of any first-year player on the Dallas Mavericks’ roster during the 2016-17 season after playing in 81 of 82 games, versatile forward Dorian Finney-Smith knew he needed to work on expanding his skillset this summer in order to return a better player in Year 2.

Finney-Smith averaged 4.3 points and 2.7 rebounds last season, clocking 20.3 minutes an outing while playing extended minutes when 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki was sidelined due to a right Achilles strain early in the schedule. However, the undrafted rookie also shot just 37.2 percent from the field and 29.3 percent from behind the three-point arc, struggling to match the lockdown defense that he supplied at the offensive end of the floor. The 24-year-old then committed to working on his overall game this offseason in the Mavericks’ summer conditioning program. And according to Mavs summer-league head coach Jamahl Mosley, fans will see the strides Finney-Smith has made during the league’s upcoming 10-day tournament, which will take place July 7-17 in Las Vegas.

“He’s a worker, he’s a big-time defender, he’s a big-time glue guy, and now the one thing that he’s doing consistently throughout the summer is he’s making shots. You’re going to ask him to do that, but also the other intangibles he does well. I think he’s just adding to it,” Mosley said while praising Finney-Smith during the Mavs’ three-day minicamp before departing for Las Vegas.

“A lot of rookies walk in, and some get minutes here, sporadic there, but what he’s done is he’s played consistent minutes,” the coach added. “I think he’s one of the guys who has played 81 out of 82 games as a rookie. And for your confidence level to know that you can come to this level and play as a rookie is big.”

The 6-foot-8, 220-pounder averaged 10.7 points and 7.1 rebounds in 134 career collegiate games while leading Florida in rebounding during all three of his seasons there. He also led the Gators in scoring in each of his final two campaigns, shooting 47.2 percent from the field and 42.6 percent from behind the three-point arc during his junior season. He then upped his production to averages of 14.7 points and 8.3 rebounds while connecting on 43.7 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from beyond the arc during his senior season. But after a lackluster rookie season at the offensive end, Finney-Smith says he’s ready to show his progression as a player and as a leader during summer-league play.

“Well, first of all, I’ve been working on my shot, trying to stop putting it so far behind my head and keeping it in front,” Finney-Smith proclaimed. “I’m working on my ball-handling with [Mavs basketball development coach God Shammgod], and in summer league right now I’m playing the four and trying to expand my game. You know, I’m playing the four and the three.

“I know I have to be a little bit more vocal, playing 81 games and playing a lot of NBA minutes. Not even noticing, but guys look up to you ’cause you did play that many minutes, so I was designated to be the guy to be verbal and help this team get wins. … You know, we’ve got a lot of roster guys on this team, and I feel like we should have a successful week or however long we’re there. You know, we’ve all been here the whole summer working out, so I’ve seen them get better. It’s just going to be on us to perform. I know coach (Mosley) will put us in the right situation. We’ve just got to go out there and execute.”

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle hopes to see Justin Anderson ‘keep building’ entering Year 2

DALLAS — After coming on strong to close his rookie season with the Dallas Mavericks near the end of the 2015-16 schedule, much will be asked of versatile swingman Justin Anderson entering Year 2.

Selected with the 21st overall pick in last June’s NBA Draft, Anderson found it hard to immediately crack Mavs coach Rick Carlisle’s rotation early in the season while sliding behind veterans Wesley Matthews and Chandler Parsons on the depth chart. Anderson finished his rookie season having appeared in 55 games, averaging 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds during his 11.8 minutes per outing. However, after seeing Parsons go down with a season-ending right knee injury, Anderson was inserted into the starting lineup and quickly provided a spark on March 28 in Denver, scoring 11 points, grabbing four rebounds, dishing two assists, grabbing a steal and registering two blocks in 24 minutes of action during a 97-88 victory. Carlisle now hopes Anderson continues to trend upward with his play, entering the upcoming season with high expectations for the promising young pro.

“Just to keep building,” Carlisle said in a recent interview with NBA TV when asked what his hopes for Anderson are entering the ’16-17 season. “You know, a young player needs experience to get better. When he first came here last summer, you know, he was a talented guy that was a good athlete and good defender, and he could make shots. But we were a flow-and-make-plays type of team, and not a big call-plays type of team. He had to learn our system, and he worked hard to keep things simple as the season went along. And towards the end, when we got banged up a little bit, he became a full-time starter. And he was one of the big reasons we got to the playoffs, so I like what he’s doing this summer. He’s a hard worker, he loves to play, he loves to be a part of a team, and so he’s another important guy as we look towards the future.”

Seeing little time on the court before having his minutes increased during the month of April to 26.3 an outing, the 22-year-old Anderson averaged 7.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.1 blocks during the final seven games of the regular season. He then upped his scoring average during the Mavericks’ first-round playoff series against Oklahoma City, posting 9.4 points, 4.0 boards and 1.4 assists in 18.8 minutes an outing as his team eventually fell in five games. Anderson also showed his full potential in the series-clinching Game 5 loss to the Thunder by filling up the stat sheet with 14 points, four rebounds, an assist, a block and three steals. Still, Anderson says he’s not satisfied as he tries to make his mark in the league.

The former Virginia standout continued to impress by averaging 16.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists in five games during the Las Vegas Summer League back in July. But despite now finding himself once again behind veterans in Matthews and new addition Harrison Barnes on the depth chart heading into training camp, Anderson says he’ll attempt to build on that personal success. He now hopes to learn from valuable playing time in his first season, looking to become a trusted contributor that Carlisle can turn to on a nightly basis.

“The reality of it is, at the end of the day, you’re going to come back to training camp in September and you’re going to see Wesley Matthews on one wing, Harrison Barnes on another wing, and Dirk Nowitzki, a Hall of Famer, getting his shots in his spots,” Anderson admitted this summer. “I think the best thing for me is to kind of be mature about this process and figure out what this team needs me to do this year, and go out there and try to practice it and try to put some of these things into play. With that being said, also having a high level of aggressiveness. But at the same time, just doing it the right way. Just playing the game the right way is what I’m focused on.”

Mavs plan to take simplistic approach to expanding rookie Justin Anderson’s game

DALLAS — Despite seeing a late-season spike in rookie Just Anderson’s production to close his first professional campaign, the Dallas Mavericks plan to take a simplistic approach to expanding his overall game this summer.

Selected with the 21st overall pick in the first round of last summer’s NBA Draft, Anderson appeared in 55 games this season while finding himself in a crowded rotation on the wings. The first-year pro slid into the starting lineup nine times as well, averaging 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds an outing during his 11.8 minutes per game. But after scoring 14 points, pulling down four rebounds, dishing an assist, recording a block and collecting three steals in the Mavericks’ first-round playoff series-clinching 118-104 Game 5 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the franchise fully expects big things from Anderson entering Year 2.

“I think Justin is just really starting to come into his own. The last game was, I think, a nice caption of what he could be,” Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson explained.

“Anderson played extremely well, particularly the last 15 games,” coach Rick Carlisle added. “The last nine of the season, and then the five in the playoffs. … We want to develop more of (his game), but at the right pace. You know, again, one of his great skills is his competitiveness, and that’s something you look for in any draft prospect, free agent, or anything else. That last nine games of the regular season, when he was in the starting lineup the majority of the time, he gave us a great physical presence, he gave us a great competitive presence, he gave us rebounding, toughness, along with scoring and shotmaking.”

Having his minutes increased during the month of April to 26.3 a game, the 22-year-old Anderson averaged 7.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.1 blocks during the final seven games of the regular season. He then upped his scoring average in the playoffs, posting 9.4 points, 4.0 boards and 1.4 assists in 18.8 minutes an outing as the Mavs fell to the Thunder in five games. But all of that pales in comparison to the player he sees himself becoming, according to the former Virginia standout.

Playing few meaningful minutes throughout the early stage of the season, Anderson was inserted into the starting lineup after the Mavericks fell three games below .500 following a 133-111 loss at Sacramento on March 27. Anderson then proved to be just the spark the team needed one night later in Denver, scoring 11 points, grabbing four rebounds, dishing two assists, grabbing a steal and registering two blocks in 24 minutes of action during a 97-88 victory.

With the rookie growing before their very eyes, the Mavericks won the next five games as well, capturing victories in seven of the final nine outings during a stretch that included Anderson’s career-high 19 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in a 103-93 win over Memphis on April 8. But according to Anderson, he’s just beginning to tap into his full potential.

“It was a rookie year, for sure. I’m very appreciative of it. I’m appreciative of the ups and the downs,” Anderson said during his exit interview with the Dallas media. “I can think back to a couple of specific moments of going through what everyone tried to warn me about, but you never really understand until you get in the situation. But I’m just very appreciative for how this organization handled my development.”

He added: “Looking back on it, in hindsight, they prepared me the right way. I peaked at the best time this year for our team to try to make a push. They did play me early, but I showed spurts at times where I wasn’t ready yet. You know, it was inconsistency, and it was totally fair how I was treated this year. … But at the same time, I just knew my time was going to come. And that’s not cliche. You hear this all the time, but I think this is not lip service. Always be ready for your opportunity, and we were beat up at the end of the year. We had little bodies, and I had to make sure I grew up fast to be ready for the opportunity. And I think I took full advantage.”

Prior to joining the Mavericks, the 230-pounder played three years at Virginia while leading the Cavaliers to two Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season titles and just the second ACC tournament championship in school history. As a junior, Anderson averaged 12.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists, connecting on 46.6 percent from the field on his way to being named to the NABC All-America Third Team and All-ACC Second Team. Anderson then quickly picked up the Mavericks’ playbook before heading to the Las Vegas Summer League in July, starting all six of the squad’s games en route to the quarterfinals of the tournament and averaging 17.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.2 steals an outing.

Anderson is again expected to lead the Mavs’ summer-league team this offseason, hoping to pick up where he left off at in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Mavericks will look for Anderson to continue progressing at the right pace, hoping not to put too much on the young pro’s broad shoulders. That said, the 6-foot-6 swingman will continue to take a gradual approach to improving his game after showing glimpses of stardom during his first season.

“It’s really important,” Anderson said of the summer entering Year 2. “But at the same time, I think what’s made me good in my basketball career is just staying even-keeled and kind of just staying true to the process. If you’ve got to get ready and you’ve got to start working harder, then you’re already behind. I trust in my preparation. Obviously, I wasn’t here on this level playing, but I got a year under my belt and I know what it’s like. But at the same time, I don’t want to put too much anxiety on myself going into my first summer after playing my first season. It’s important for me to get away from basketball for a couple of days and not even thinking about it. And then as far as my development, I’m going to take it extremely seriously. Not because I feel like it’s an expectation or a pressure, but because I love the game of basketball. And I can’t wait to get out and show the world that I came back even better next season. That’s just the competitor in me, and I think everything else will take care of itself.

“As far as it being a big summer, I understand where everyone is coming from. I’m going to work my hardest, but I’ve already been working hard. I’ve been working hard since during that whole draft process, and I’m glad I don’t have to do that again. Having to go from team to team and interviews, you know, I worked hard during that time last year as well. So, I could definitely have more time to focus on my game, get ready, get back here and prepare, and Summer League will be here before we all know it.”

Mavs saw growth at ‘right pace’ during rookie Justin Anderson’s first season

DALLAS — Selected with the 21st overall pick in last June’s NBA Draft, Dallas Mavericks rookie Justin Anderson didn’t expect to be asked to carry a heavy load during his first professional season. He only hoped to fit in.

Joining a Dallas team with proven veterans on the wings, Anderson hoped to simply work his way into the rotation during his rookie season. But with injuries to the Mavericks’ veteran core, the former Virginia standout saw himself thrust into a starting role late in the season and into the playoffs.

All told, Anderson appeared in 55 games this season, sliding into the starting lineup nine times for Mavs coach Rick Carlisle. He also averaged 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds an outing, making the most of his 11.8 minutes per game. But after scoring 14 points, pulling down four rebounds, dishing an assist, recording a block and collecting three steals in the Mavericks’ first-round playoff series-clinching 118-104 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Anderson may have saved his best performance of the season for last.

“I think Justin is just really starting to come into his own. The last game was, I think, a nice caption of what he could be,” Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson explained.

Playing few meaningful minutes throughout the early stage of the season, Anderson was called upon after the Mavericks dropped three games below .500 following a 133-111 loss at Sacramento on March 27. He was then inserted into the first unit while making his second career start the following night in Denver. And alongside second-year big man Dwight Powell, Anderson proved to be just the spark the Mavs needed for a 97-88 victory, scoring 11 points, grabbing four rebounds, dishing two assists, grabbing a steal and registering two blocks in 24 minutes of action.

The Mavericks won the next five games after that as well, capturing victories in seven of their final nine outings to reach the playoffs for a 15th time in 16 years. That included Anderson’s career-high 19 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in a 103-93 win over Memphis on April 8. And according to Carlisle, the emergence of Anderson was a major key to turning the team’s season around.

“You know, when you have a definable skill in the NBA and you’re a competitor, you know, you can play and be effective as a younger player,” Carlisle explained.

“Anderson played extremely well, particularly the last 15 games,” the coach added. “The last nine of the season, and then the five in the playoffs. … We want to develop more of (his game), but at the right pace. You know, again, one of his great skills is his competitiveness, and that’s something you look for in any draft prospect, free agent, or anything else. That last nine games of the regular season, when he was in the starting lineup the majority of the time, he gave us a great physical presence, he gave us a great competitive presence, he gave us rebounding, toughness, along with scoring and shotmaking.”

Experiencing a fair share of highs and lows during his rookie season, Anderson will now try to build on his stellar play to close the year.

Seeing a spike in his minutes in the month of April to 26.3 a game, the 22-year-old Anderson averaged 7.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.1 blocks during the final seven games of the regular season. He then upped his scoring average in the playoffs, posting 9.4 points, 4.0 boards and 1.4 assists in 18.8 minutes an outing as the Mavs fell to the Thunder in five games. He’ll now attempt to build on the success of this season, vowing to return as a better player in Year 2.

“It was a rookie year, for sure. I’m very appreciative of it. I’m appreciative of the ups and the downs,” Anderson said last month during his exit interview with the Dallas media. “I can think back to a couple of specific moments of going through what everyone tried to warn me about, but you never really understand until you get in the situation. But I’m just very appreciative for how this organization handled my development. They were always honest with me and I love that moving forward, knowing there’s a trust between the two. I’m just very excited to say that I finished an entire NBA season and also to be able to say that I went to the playoffs in my rookie season. I mean, that means a lot to me personally, growing up and watching the playoffs on all the different networks. You know, watching the greats play in the playoffs, it’s the toughest time of the year. But also hearing the stories of guys who haven’t been in the playoffs after five, six, seven or multiple years, that’s a pretty cool accomplishment. So, I’m just trying to take the positive things and roll with them into the summer, so I can get that good vibe and get ready to start training for another big season next year.”

Ricky Ledo is hungry to prove himself entering Year 2

DALLAS — Although he didn’t see much time on the court for the Dallas Mavericks during his rookie campaign, swingman Ricky Ledo says don’t count him out when divvying up minutes in the backcourt this upcoming season.

Ledo appeared in just 11 games for the Mavericks during the 2013-14 season after sitting out a year of basketball at Providence. He averaged just 1.7 points while shooting 35.3 percent from the floor and 37.5 percent from three-point range in limited playing time for the Mavs. But, after averaging 13.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 39 appearances for the Mavericks’ NBA Development League affiliate, the Texas Legends, Ledo could be primed and ready for a much more productive season following a strong summer-league showing.

“I think this will be like one of the biggest summers in my career,” Ledo confessed. “I’ve been in the NBA for a year now and I’m not a rookie anymore. So, just to show all the hard work that I’ve done and where it’s going to go. … Show that I can be a great team player and just show what I can do to my best ability.”

Entering the league as the 43rd pick in the 2013 draft, Ledo will come to training camp well aware that he’ll have to impress Mavs coach Rick Carlisle in order to make his way into the rotation. However, after showcasing his all-around skill set at the Las Vegas Summer League, Ledo could immediately see time backing up starting shooting guard Monta Ellis.

Concluding summer-league play by filling up the stat sheet with 15 points, four rebounds and nine assists, Ledo helped lead the Mavericks to a blowout 88-62 win over Phoenix to finish with a 3-2 record. In five games, Ledo averaged 15.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.4 steals a contest, showing he can do a little bit of everything. And although his shot selection is still in doubt after connecting on just 32.4 percent from the field, Ledo’s ability to create for others is certainly not in question.

“I just took what they gave me,” Ledo said of his summer performance. “I slowed it down. The major thing with me is slowing things down and just seeing it, so I slowed down and I saw my teammates. I got to find a lot of my teammates on great passes.”

The Mavs’ backcourt is expected to be crowded thanks to the re-signing of Devin Harris and offseason additions of veterans Raymond Felton and Jameer Nelson to create a logjam at point guard. With that said, Carlisle could look to Ledo to help relieve Ellis at shooting guard this season after the cat-quick veteran averaged the eighth-most minutes in the league last season, sweating out 36.9 minutes a game.

Ledo could also be called upon to step up after former sixth man Vince Carter’s free-agent departure to Memphis, leaving a void in instant offense off the Dallas bench. Either way, the 21-year-old says he’s ready to rise to the occasion in Year 2.

“It’s just a confidence issue,” Ledo explained. “Last year, it was a different feeling. Now, I feel more comfortable and I had a year under my belt to get back to my game shape and get back to form. … I can be a valuable asset to the team. They made a good pick in me.

“Just my overall game. I can pass the ball, I can play one through three and just keep pushing it, being a young person who just keeps working hard. It’s a man’s game and I had to work on my body, get stronger and overall just slow everything down and just take what the defense gives you. Just take what they give you, don’t be in a rush, wait for my screens, wait for my player to get hit and just come off screens aggressive.”

Gal Mekel, Ricky Ledo look to make strides in second summer with Mavs

One-on-one with Kaleb Canales

Mavs.com's Earl K. Sneed goes one-on-one with the Mavericks 2014 summer league head coach Kaleb Canales.

DALLAS — The second time around can be better than the first. Gal Mekel and Ricky Ledo certainly hope that’s the case.

With former first-round acquisition Shane Larkin now in New York via the multi-player trade that brought back center Tyson Chandler and point guard Raymond Felton to Dallas, all eyes will now be on the progression of Mekel and Ledo as they get set to lead the Mavericks’ summer-league squad.

As both enter Year 2 with the Mavericks, Mekel and Ledo will get a chance to showcase the strides they’ve made after limited playing time during the 2013-14 season. Both young guards now hope to take full advantage of the opportunity that lays in front of them, as Mekel tries to shake off a midseason injury and Ledo looks to learn from his time in the Development League.

“You know, I think [Mekel’s] and Ricky’s personal goals and our team concept kind of align together,” Mavs assistant and summer-league head coach Kaleb Canales said of the pair, “in terms of seeing that next step for both of them to progress and develop and see things that we want to see as an organization on the floor from them.”

Playing in 31 games as a 25-year-old rookie and former two-time Israeli MVP, Mekel averaged 2.4 points and 2.0 assists before undergoing surgery to repair a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee on Jan. 17 that ended his season. Now, Mekel will try to show that he can bounce back from the knee surgery while also improving his perimeter shooting, connecting on only 34.9 percent from the field and 25.0 percent from behind the arc in his first year.

“We’ll see how different it is. I still don’t know,” Mekel said as he heads into his second summer of work as an NBA point guard. “I’m excited, because I didn’t play for a long time after the injury, and finally I feel very good. No pain at all and I really feel perfect, so I’m excited to be back playing.

“[Outside shooting] is what me and the coaches are talking about, especially the three-point shots. If I’m going to make them consistently and a good percentage, I can really help our team during the season. And this is what I want to work on.”

Meanwhile, the 21-year-old Ledo will try to simply show that he belongs on an NBA roster after spending most of the season with the Mavs’ D-League affiliate, the Texas Legends.

The 6-foot-7 Ledo appeared in just 11 games for the Mavericks after sitting out a year of basketball at Providence. He averaged just 1.7 points while shooting 35.3 percent from the floor and 37.5 percent from three-point range in limited playing time. Ledo also averaged 13.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 39 games for the Legends.

Still, the 43rd pick in last year’s draft says he has much more to do in order to impress the Mavs’ coaching staff this summer.

“I think this will be like one of the biggest summers in my career,” Ledo confessed. “I’ve been in the NBA for a year now and I’m not a rookie anymore. So, just to show all the hard work that I’ve done and where it’s going to go, I just want to be a leader and show by example. Just be one of the best players in summer league, show that I can be a great team player and just show what I can do to my best ability.”

Both Ledo and Mekel will now get a chance to measure their improvements immediately against their former teammate when summer-league play begins against Larkin and the Knicks on Friday.

Shane Larkin’s mid-season spark against Suns serves as blueprint for Year 2

DALLAS — It was a bumpy entry into the NBA for Dallas Mavericks rookie Shane Larkin this season, but he took it all in stride.

Fracturing his right ankle in the final practice before the Mavericks’ summer-league squad headed to Las Vegas last July, the former Miami standout and first-round draft pick would be forced to sit and watch helplessly while rehabbing during training camp. But it wouldn’t take long for Larkin to make an impact and an impression on Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, suiting up for his long-awaited season debut on Nov. 18 and filling up the stat sheet with three points, three assists and three steals in nine minutes of reserve work off the bench during Dallas’ 97-94 home win over Philadelphia.

“Larkin showed that he’s a guy that can be a factor in this league as a point guard,” Carlisle said while highlighting the bright moments in the first-year guard’s season.

Forced to sit behind veterans Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis and Devin Harris in the backcourt most of the season, the 21-year-old Larkin would have to wait his turn from there while finding himself at the end of the bench. However, he would continue to provide the Mavs with glimpses of talent throughout the season while gaining more and more confidence from his head coach and teammates.

Scoring a season-high 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting while dishing out five assists in 27 minutes of action during the Mavs’ 110-107 win at Phoenix on Jan. 17, Larkin showed that he remained ready to answer the call when Calderon was hampered by a right knee contusion. The effort then quickly earned the respect of his coach and the team’s veterans while showcasing what Larkin could provide in future seasons.

“This is why we drafted him,” Carlisle said following Larkin’s best performance of the season. “We felt like he could have this kind of impact. Jose banged a knee in the first half and it wasn’t quite right in the second half, and so we totally changed our rotation and Shane responded in a big way. He made plays down the stretch, made free throws and hit guys. He was probably our leading scorer in the last four or five minutes, which is huge on the road. It’s hard to win on the road in the NBA.”

Attacking relentlessly to get into the lane, Larkin showed a cat-quick ability to run the team as a floor general on the offensive end of the floor. He also stepped up his game on defense, proving to be a one-man press against Suns point guard and Most Improved Player of the Year Goran Dragic.

All of which could be utilized in the backcourt next season, according to 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki, as Larkin tries to expand his game in Year 2.

“I think it was his kind of game, an up-and-down game, and he was phenomenal,” Nowitzki said in regard to his young teammate’s night. “He made big shots, he knocked down big free throws and we needed him, obviously, with Jose going down. The little guy was phenomenal. He competed, he picked up fullcourt and pushed the pace for us when we needed, so he was phenomenal.”

Perhaps more importantly, however, the performance also gave the rookie confidence in himself as he grew more comfortable in Carlisle’s system. That game could now serve as a blueprint for Larkin’s success going forward as he looks to continue developing this summer before heading into his second season.

“I was like, ‘I’ve just got to go play now. I mean, I’m not coming out, so just go out there and do you,’” Larkin recalled of his performance after seeing Calderon go down in the second half. “Sometimes you think as a rookie you don’t want to mess up. You want to play smart and you don’t want to do things that Coach [Carlisle] isn’t comfortable with you doing yet. … It was just go play.

“Phoenix likes to get up and down, and I’ve always been accustom to the up-and-down style. It was just a great game, 110-107, and just to be able to know I contributed and was a part of the win in a big way really just helps your confidence.”