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Summer League: Mavs Shine, Top Picks Tangle

NBA Summer League is in full swing with play in the primary Las Vegas league having started, and shorter leagues in Orlando and Utah now in the books.

And while it is just Summer League and should be taken with a grain of salt, it is real basketball giving teams a live look at young players. Here’s a look at highlights from what’s happened so far.


Mavs impress in Orlando

The Dallas Mavericks will find the sledding tough in the Western Conference next season, but for a week in Orlando, they were the best of the eight squads in the Orlando Summer League.

Dallas won the championship game of the league 83-81 in overtime against the Detroit Pistons. Undrafted rookie Johnathan Motley from Baylor hit the game winner for the Mavs with 0.3 seconds left.

The Pistons got 24 points in the title game from their first-round pick, Luke Kennard, capping a solid week for the Duke product.

Others who impressed in Orlando were Bam Adebayo, the Heat’s first-round pick, who filled the stat sheet and quieted some critics of his lottery selection last month, Charlotte second-rounder Dwayne Bacon whose game at times was, uh, sizzling, and Thunder big man Dakari Johnson, who has been with OKC’s G League affiliate the last two years but was the team’s most steady performer in Orlando.


Jazz extract revenge?

The Utah Jazz were able to get a tiny, tiny amount of revenge on the Boston Celtics via a coincidentally timed Summer League win July 6.

That’s two days after Jazz star Gordon Hayward announced he was leaving Utah for the Celtics via free agency. In more irony, Dante Exum, who figures to see a big bump in minutes due to that move, was the leading scorer in Utah’s 68-65 summer triumph.


Rolling in Vegas

While Lonzo Ball’s debut with the Lakers drew the most attention on the first day at the Vegas Summer League, several other top draft picks got their pro careers officially started as well.

Top five picks D’Aaron Fox of the Kings and Josh Jackson of the Suns had a spirited battle against each other, each scoring 18 points in what ultimately was a four-point win for Phoenix.

Games continue in Las Vegas through July 17.

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