LAS VEGAS — The Dallas Mavericks fell to the Chicago Bulls in their open game of Las Vegas Summer League, losing 100-99 in overtime. Marko Simonovic, a 2020 second round selection for the Bulls, pummeled Dallas inside, scoring 27 points, grabbing 13 rebounds, as well as hitting the game winning free throw. Dallas rookie Jaden Hardy led Dallas in defeat with 28 points.
Dallas went down early to the Chicago Bulls, looking a bit slow to react to the first game of the day in Las Vegas. After falling down 8-2, the Mavericks slowly worked themselves back into the game through a couple of baskets from rookie Jaden Hardy. Two timely baskets from Justin Goran helped keep Dallas close and they found themselves trailing 21-17 after one quarter.
The offense came alive in the second quarter, led by repeatedly threes from AJ Lawson as the Mavericks poured in 30 points. The Dallas defense tightened up as well, allowing just 12 in the frame and drawing a number of offensive fouls from an overly aggressive Chicago attack. Jaden Hardy continued to impress, getting to the line on drives and a willingness to continue attacking the rim. At the half the Mavericks led 47-33.
Despite starting the half with a made basket and a 16 point lead, the Dallas Mavericks let the Chicago Bulls work all the way back into the game. The game essentially flipped the script of the second quarter, with some sloppy offense resulting in turnovers leading to poor defense. But after Chicago pulled within one, the Dallas defense turned on just a bit and a fast break dunk from Jalen Lacque helped the Mavericks stabilize. Dallas took a 64-58 lead into the final period.
Defense set the tone early for Dallas as they attempted to hold off Chicago. Jaden Hardy continued his stellar performance with a variety of moves, including a beautiful step back two and a catch-and-shoot three from the corner off a drive. The Bulls just kept in coming, finding answers to keep the game close. Some offensive miscues from Hardy and the Mavericks in the final minute and a half resulted in the game ending in regulation tied 90 all. The two teams traded leads throughout overtime, but after a massive dunk from AJ Lawson, Marko Simonovic grabbed his sixth offensive board of the game, got fouled at the buzzer, and sunk one of two free throws to end the game. Dallas falls in the first game of summer league, 100-99.
The Jaden Hardy experience
Rookie guard Jaden Hardy filled up the stat sheet, scoring 28 points on 9 of 19 shooting, grabbed four rebounds, three assists, one steal and six turnovers. He marched to the free throw line, earning 11 attempts and connecting on eight. His offensive game was really fun, with the kind of finishing and shot making that will result in a fair amount of fun summer hyperbole. His 28 points were the most for a Dallas Maverick in a Summer League game since 2019 when Cam Payne poured in 32.
However, he also committed two turnovers in the final minute of regulation and in overtime which directly led to Bulls scores. He over-penetrated on both drives and it was a reminder that he’s still a young man and developing player. He’ll learn from those miscues. It’s just one game in but Jaden Hardy looks like a steal.
A.J. Lawson is a revelation
The South Carolina product exploded for Dallas against the Bulls, scoring 28 points including six threes and what should’ve been the game winning dunk. Lawson’s not a player I’m very familiar with, but at 6’6” and 180 pounds with a variety of moves and athleticism, he’s the kind of guard who can thrive in a Vegas Summer League environment. How he shakes out these next several games is going to be worth watching as there were significant stretches where he looked like the best player on the floor for Dallas.
Hustle plays make a difference in all basketball games
An awesome hustle play from Jerrick Harding to start the fourth quarter really helped the Mavericks hold off Chicago. After tipping a pass into the back court, Harding ran two thirds of the court and dove for the ball underneath the Dallas basket. Derrick Alston saw what was happening and ran back from defense towards the rim. From the floor on his back, Harding found Alston diving to the basket on a beautiful lead pass, which Alston caught, then side stepped the two players on the floor and laid in the ball while getting fouled. It’s plays like these which make a difference in a competitive and close game.
Click here to go to our latest episode of After Dark, part of the Mavs Moneyball podcast feed, click play on the embed below, or go to your favorite podcast provider and search Mavs Moneyball Podcast. I was joined postgame by Jose, one of the cohosts of #77Spaces, along with Jas and Rolo, which is a pre-game and off-season Twitter Space. Click here to listen to one of their previous shows.