LAS VEGAS – The Dallas Mavericks’ bid to win a summer league championship for the second time in three years fell by the wayside Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Unable to successfully climb out of an 0-12 hole, the Mavs were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the MGM Resorts NBA Summer League when they lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves, 108-82. That loss ended summer league play for the Mavs with a 3-2 record.
In the meantime, the Timberwolves advanced to Sunday’s semifinals and will meet Brooklyn, who beat Detroit, 105-85, in a quarterfinal matchup. Saturday’s other two quarterfinals saw No. 8-seeded Memphis topple the No. 1 -seeded Boston Celtics, 94-88, and New Orleans held off Miami, 101-100 in overtime.
Memphis and New Orleans with square off in Sunday’s other semifinal bracket, while the championship game is set for Monday night.
The Mavs found themselves starting at a 12-0 deficit with 6:48 left in the first quarter the Mavs were 0-5 from the field with two turnovers. That head-scratching slow start was conducive to what type of uneven night this was for the Mavs.
“They came out firing, they were hot, we tried to fight back, but they had the momentum,” guard Josh Reaves said. “They were knocking down shots, they were playing with a lot of confidence.
“They’re a very experienced team, they have a lot of older guys, and they just executed their gameplan. We tried to execute ours as best as possible, but the momentum that they had was just too much.”
The Mavs hadn’t played since defeating Croatia on Wednesday, 79-71. But they didn’t use the long layoff as an excuse for this loss.
“That’s a good team right there,” said forward Antonius Cleveland, who collected 17 points and six rebounds. “I don’t know if the two days off had us kind of sluggish, but they came out and just played harder and better than us and they deserved to win.”
Reaves produced the highlight of the night for the Mavs when he took two steps past the top of the key from the other end of the court, double pumped, threw the ball with two hands over his head and banked in the contested 3-point shot at the first-quarter buzzer. That got the crowd all riled up and trimmed the Timberwolves’ lead to 29-20.
“I grew up playing soccer,” said Reaves, who finished with 15 points. “That throw was the type of move that I’ve been doing since I was a little kid.
“The opportunity presented itself, so I just threw it as far as I could and thankfully it went in.”
Unfazed, the Timberwolves pushed their lead to 37-21, only to see the Mavs claw within 50-42 at the half.
“It’s certainly not how we wanted to start, but I give our guys credit, though,” coach Mike Weinar said. “They didn’t give up. Even after the 12-0 run, we responded.
“They had a 16-point lead and we cut it to eight at the half, which is a manageable deficit. I was really excited that we had a chance in the second half to come really with some force, and we talked leverage a lot and tried to put the leverage back on our side.”
A three-point play by Daryl Macon, followed by a Cleveland tip-in, and the Mavs were only down, 52-47. But the pesky Timberwolves finished the third quarter on a 19-5 run and entered the fourth quarter toting an 81-60 lead.
“We cut it and I think there was a stoppage of play there, then they came out really with some juice,” said Weinar, who was the coach when the Mavs won the Orlando Summer League two years ago. “We were down a couple of personnel today, but that’s not an excuse.
“The next man up’s got to be ready to go, and then they took the leverage at that point and it was hard to reel it back in.”
Guard Yudai Baba missed the game with a right AC sprained shoulder, an injury he suffered during the win over Croatia.
“He just couldn’t go today,” Weinar said. “He was going to be day-today going forward if we were able to advance.”
Minnesota had such a grip on this game that its lead eventually swelled to as high as 28 points in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, the Mavs, who also got 11 points from Macon, shot just 37.3 percent from the field and missed 20 of their 25 shot attempts from behind the 3-point line. On the flip side, the Timberwolves ran their record to a perfect 5-0 by shooting 52.2 percent from the floor and converting 13 of their 28 buckets from beyond the 3-point arc.
“We were trying to push the ball, trying to get to the basket and get shots,” Reaves said. “Anything can change the swing of a game.
“They had it right then and there with a stop, a bucket, or a three, and the momentum was in their hands and they just took it and ran with it.”
And ultimately ended summer league play for the Mavs.