LAS VEGAS -- They were so close Thursday night to knocking off the No. 1-seeded team in the Las Vegas Summer League.
But the Dallas Mavericks coughed up a 10-point lead with three minutes to go en route to dropping a heart-breaking 79-76 game to the Golden State Warriors at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Mavs (2-3) will now play the Chicago Bulls on Friday at 9 p.m. CDT in the consolation bracket at the COX Pavilion. If the Mavs lose to the Bulls, their summer league play will come to an end.
Dallas was cruising along with a 72-62 lead over the heralded Warriors with three minutes remaining and appeared well on their way towards moving to the quarterfinals. But a mad rush by the Warriors stymied the Mavs, as Golden State ended the game on a 17-4 run.
"At crunch time you've got to get stops, you've got to make plays on offense and you've got to take care of the ball,'' Mavs summer league coach Monte Mathis said. "But give credit to Golden State, too.
"They did a great job coming back. They had players that are league players, roster players, that made plays.''
The biggest play of the game for the Warriors came after the Mavs blocked a shot. A surprised Cameron Jones picked up the loose ball for the Warriors under his own basket and negotiated a dunk that gave the Warriors a 77-76 lead with just 10.5 seconds left.
Following a timeout, Ricky Ledo misfired on a contested 7-footer which would have given the Mavs the lead again, as the Dallas players and coaches left the court totally dejected.
"It was a good look,'' Ledo said of his final shot. "I just missed it.''
With that, the Mavs missed out on a golden opportunity to knock off a Warriors' club that has now won 11 consecutive summer league games.
"It doesn't feel good,'' Mathis said. "The guys in there, we know, it was our game to have.
"We just didn't do the things necessary down the stretch to pull it out. But I thought our guys gave great effort.''
The Mavs played the balance of the game without forward Jae Crowder, who left for good late in the first period after spraining his left ankle. Also, Josh Akognon, the Mavs' leading scorer who entered the game with a team-high 20.5 points per game average, was just 1-of-14 from the field with only five points.
Toss in the fact that leading rebounder Bernard James left the team Tuesday for personal reasons, the Mavs may have been a bit surprised that they were on the cusp of upending the Warriors.
"It was a little tough without Jae when Jae went down,'' Mathis said. "But our guys played great ball up until about three (or) three-and-a-half minutes -- played great team basketball.
"And that's without one of the starters.''
Overall, Justin Dentmon paced the Mavs with 19 points, Gal Mekel finished with 13 points and five turnovers, Ledo had 12 points and six boards, and Jackie Carmichael collected 12 points, seven reobunds and seven blocks.
Dallas led 18-16 at the conclusion of the first quarter, but trailed 35-34 at intermission. With Mekel scoring six points, the Mavs toted a 58-53 lead into the final stanza and were nursing a 70-56 lead with 7:02 left in the game following a basket by Dentmon.
But the Mavs failed to execute and failed to apply enough defensive pressure when the game was there for the taking.
"We had the game won,'' Ledo said. "We just lost it ourselves.
"We just couldn't do better and we didn't execute at the end.''
The inability to make critical shots hampered the Mavs, who had the rare combination of finishing the game with more blocked shots (12) than assists (six). Dallas also shot only 36 percent from the field and converted just 4-of-19 three-pointers.
Dentmon said playing without Crowder gave the Mavs more than their issues they had to deal with throughout the course of the game.
"It was tough, because Jae is that defensive anchor that you need to boost up your defense,'' Dentmon said. "But we battled awhile, we just had silly mistakes at the end.''
Dentmon didn't believe the Mavs started celebrating too soon, thinking the game was over.
"It's a game of runs,'' he said. "They made their run late and we couldn't stop it.''
Kent Bazemore led the Warriors with 25 points and six rebounds, Jones tallied 15, Lance Goulbourne had 13, and Draymond Green and Gary McGhee scored 10 points apiece.
"They did a great job -- Golden State,'' Mathis said. "They made the important shots at the end and we kind of got a little bit out of whack offensively ourselves.''
A late thunder dunk by Bazemore fired up the Warriors, and the Mavs couldn't recover.
"You've got to get stops,'' Mathis said. "At the end of the day you've got to stay in front of people on the defensive end no matter what coverage there is on the pick-and-roll or anything like that.
"And you've got to checkout people on the boards. But the main thing is keeping guys in front of you so they can't get in the paint and collapse the defense and the ball starts spitting out for three's.''
The Mavs won the rebounding battle, 47-39, with Dewayne Demon leading the way with eight. However, the game just got too chaotic for the Mavs during crunch time and they weren't able to overcome their mistakes.
"We just didn't execute at the end of the game,'' Ledo said. "And at the end of the game there were just some bad plays, and we didn't get stops and then we didn't convert.''
-- Dwain Price
Follow me on Twitter