In a highly anticipated matchup between two top 10 draft picks, Los Angeles comes away victorious over Dallas 108-98 Sunday night in the NBA Summer League. Kyle Kuzma led the Laker charge, while Dennis Smith, Jr. continues to show glimpses of the near future.
Summer League tournament play ended Sunday in Las Vegas as the Dallas Mavericks fell to the Los Angeles Lakers 108-98 in the semifinals. The Lakers will now move on to take on the Portland Trail Blazers in the finals, who eliminated the Memphis Grizzlies earlier today. This gives the Dallas Mavericks their first loss of the summer, as they finished a perfect 5-0 previously in Orlando League competition.
Led by Kyle Kuzma, the Lakers jumped ahead with an early lead. Dallas couldn’t seem to establish any rhythm as the game began. Shots wouldn’t fall, defensive assignments were missed and they were stuck playing catch up. Dallas finished only 42 percent from the field and 33 percent outside.
The Lakers continued to dominate play inside and out, as they finished 77 percent from the 3-point line and 61 percent from the field. Kuzma led the team with 24 points while Lonzo Ball had a double-double with 16 points and 10 assists. His night was cut short due to calf tightness in the third quarter.
The Dallas Mavericks attempted to make a push towards the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough. The hole was too deep for the team to climb through. With flashes of Baron Davis, Dennis Smith Jr. continued to wow the crowd with his athletic play. He finished with 21 points, including a monstrous dunk driving to the basket past Ball. Yogi Ferrell played the most in 33 minutes, finishing with 15 points while Dorian Finney-Smith struggled from the field going 4-14, but ending with 13 points and 7 rebounds.
The Lakers were hot from the start. Lonzo Ball put the first points up with a 3 and continued to find the open man. Ivica Zubac added his presence making dunks and drawing fouls to the free throw line. His layup with 2:29 left in the first quarter began a floodgate of misses for the Mavericks. They didn’t score again until Dennis Smith Jr. made a pair of free throws with only 4 seconds left to play.
Matt Thomas made another 3 in the second half at the 7:39 mark. This put the Lakers up 42-29 and it continued to get worse for Dallas. The Mavericks couldn’t buy a bucket, let alone capitalize on any turnovers that the Lakers committed. A 62-40 deficit at halftime caused the team to rethink the game plan moving forward.
The misses continued to pile on as the Mavericks started the third quarter. Brandon Ashley’s tip shot finally broke the mold for shots to fall, but nothing could seem to progress. The Lakers continued to make turnovers with sloppy play, and shooting woes continued to pressure the Mavericks into finding different solutions to success. Problem is, with no defense, you don’t have many solutions to the problem.
The goal opened up a tad bit for Dallas in the fourth. Ashley’s pair of layups started a run that eventually allowed the Mavericks to close the gap. Corey Webster scored with 4:13 left, which brought Dallas closer only losing 96-88. Carrick Felix and Brandon Ashley both made some dynamic plays, while Yogi found Webster for a 3 with 2:16 left to play.
Down by one, the Mavericks were looking to build momentum, but it was too little, too late. Alex Caruso, Vander Blue and Gabe York made free throws down the stretch. Matt Thomas added his touch with another 3 pointer and the rest was history.
Although the Mavericks won’t be playing for a Summer League championship, what they’ve shown so far is incredible. It’s a learning experience for each player; learning the basics and fundamentals of the NBA is no easy task. Still, the bumps and bruises along the way will either benefit or hinder each player and respectable team.
With what we’ve seen so far, the Mavericks have a lot to be happy about.