The Dallas Mavericks fell to the Phoenix Suns in the opening game of Summer League, 92-85. Ellie Okobo poured in 21 off the bench for the Suns while Jalen Jones led Dallas with 16 point and 11 rebounds. Rookie DeAndre Ayton also chipped in 10 points and 8 rebounds for the Suns in the win. For Dallas, Dennis Smith Jr. scored 14 points and Jalen Brunson scored 6 in his debut.
The Mavericks started the game with a pair of threes from Jalen Jones and Dennis Smith Jr. to give the Mavericks a 6-0 lead. The Suns bounced right back with a three from Davon Reed, a fast break one handed oop from DeAndre Ayton, and an easy lay in following a sloppy entry pass to retake the lead. Smith reasserted his will for Dallas with a fast break lay-up and a great drive in traffic before exiting the game. Second round rookie Ray Spauling made his mark in the quarter with a three and an offensive board and put back. The Suns, however, were hot from all over the floor and hung tight with Dallas throughout the quarter. Rookie Elie Okobo was particularly impressive with a pair of buckets at the end of the shot clock. The Mavericks led 21-20 at the break.
Jalen Jones got to the line for four straight free throws to start scoring for the Mavericks in the second quarter. Dennis Smith had a number of bad air ball threes. Jalen Brunson scored his first summer league points on a long two. Dorian Finney-Smith finally hit a corner three out of a kick out from Dennis (he’d go on to miss a few more, because he just can’t seem to find a rhythm). The Suns kept coming, as Maverick turnovers led to easy points. Smith started forcing the action more and more as the Mavericks devolved into isolation basketball. Dallas stayed within reach as the Suns tried to pull away, mainly on Smith and Johnathan Motley pick and rolls. The Suns took a 42-37 lead into the half.
The wheels came off quickly in the third. Dennis Smith hit an early three, but the Suns poured it on. A seven point became ten, then 22 at one point. Part of it is the Suns brought a significant chunk of their likely opening day roster. The other part is that Dallas could not hit a shot, scoring single digits for most of the quarter. The Mavericks attempted to make the score respectable to end the period but the Suns were having none of it and took a 72-54 lead into the final quarter.
Phoenix jumped out to a twenty three point lead before the Mavericks rediscovered their pride and cut that lead down to 18. With under five minutes Dallas had whittled the lead down to 14 points, then 11 with just under three minutes to play. But the furious Maverick comeback attempt didn’t have enough time and Dallas fell to the suns 92-85.
Now some observations:
Dennis Smith is too good for Summer League
We knew this. The first quarter scoring run of seven points in six minutes was enough. Smith ended up playing significant minutes in a blowout loss and didn’t look great, but neither did the rest of the Mavericks. His pick and roll skills, particularly his passing deep in the lane, look so good. This season, with the space Dennis should see, the Mavericks are going to have so many scoring opportunities.
Ray Spauling had an excellent first showing
I didn’t know a thing about Spauling past his college (Louisville). In just 11 minutes of action he chipped in 9 points and 6 rebounds and showed consistent effort for a Mavericks team that lacked fire for most of the contest. He showed a nice stroke from outside as well. He and Johnathan Motley should compete for the bulk of the center minutes during Summer League.
Dorian Finney-Smith... come on man
DFS shot a crisp 1 of 8 from the field. The Mavericks see something in him and his shot but all the data we have, from the 2017 Summer League to the 2017-18 season, and now the first game of 2018 Summer League. Unless his defense is just that good, I’m at a loss as to what he’s bringing to the table.
Hitting shots is important
Newsflash: it’s hard to win a game where you shoot 34% from the floor. Dallas missed all sorts of easy shots and if they want to circle back on Sunday and grab a victory, they need to connect on more looks at the rim and from outside.