LAS VEGAS -- A fun-filled first quarter Tuesday night quickly turned sour for the Dallas Mavericks the rest of the game at the Thomas & Mack Center as they dropped an 82-75 decision to the NBA D-League Select in their third game of the Las Vegas Summer League.
The loss dropepd the Mavs to 1-2.
Dallas now will play the Los Angeles Clippers (1-2) on Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. CDT at the Thomas & Mack Center in what now becomes the tournament version of the summer league.
The Mavs held a seemingly comfortable 26-15 lead after the first period when they had everything going their way. But turnovers, suspect execution, poor free throw shooting and lack of rebounds led to the Mavs losing their second straight game.
"Our thing is we turned the ball over too much,'' Mavs summer league head coach Monte Mathis said. "We're not getting a shot up, you're throwing it away -- no matter what type of turnover it is.
"And when you're not getting a shot up, we just can't have that many turmovers.''
The Mavs turned the ball over 22 times, which led to 23 points for the NBA D-League squad. They also was hampered by the absence of center Bernard James.
James missed his second game in a row after flying back home for personal reasons. He also missed this past Sunday's loss to the Charlotte Bobcats because of an illness.
"He can rebound the ball defensively, offensively,'' Mathis said. "He's active, he's long, he's got a good nose for the ball.
"We're a little bit short-handed, but the other guys have got to step up. We just can't seem to get our hands on balls on offensive rebounds, and on the end we've got to checkout better.''
Mathis said he didn't know if James would be able to play in any of the remaining summer league games.
Meanwhile, Josh Akognon, who led the Mavs with 20 points on 5-of-14 shooting, also said the loss of James played a significant role in the Mavs' downfall the past two games.
"We miss him a lot,'' Akognon said. "He's gritty, he's tough, he won't let us slack.
"If someone's not helping he'll yell at you, he'll do something, he's a sargeant. I really missed him in the Charlotte game. I knew he was not on the floor and I realized how valuable he was.''
With no James holding down the middle for the Mavs, the D-League squad just kept pounding the ball inside.
"I just think that we let down on the defensive end,'' said Ricky Ledo, who finished with 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting. "It's a learning experience and next time we know what not to do.''
The Mavs had rallied from 14 down to beat Sacramento in their first game last Saturday, 76-73. They also fought back from getting down 25 points before losing to Charlotte, 86-80, this past Sunday.
So playing with a lead on Tuesday was a welcomed change, although the Mavs failed to take advantage of the opportunity.
"I thought the first unit did a great job to start the game,'' Mathis said. "They were playing well, they were moving the ball, they were defending.
"The second unit kind of let us down a little bit -- when they came in we were struggling to score.''
Akognon also didn't like the way the Mavs lost their poise following a solid performance in the first period when they converted 11-of-18 shots and forced the D-League team into committing eight turnovers and shooting just 3-of-11 from the field.
"We came up short again, man, and that's unexplainable at this point,'' Akognon said. "When you're up so much in the first half, you can only put it on yourself, and this one hurts.
"We definitely should have stayed on it and kept the lead on, but we relaxed. I think people started to relax a little bit, passes started to get a bit more lazy, we stopped fighting through screens a little harder.''
In the end, it was yet another setback for the Mavs, who shot 45.6 percent from the field and turned 25 D-League turnovers into 27 points.
Besides Akognon, the Mavs got 14 points and three rebounds from Jae Crowder. But he was only 4-of-10 from the field.
Also for Dallas, rookie point guard Gal Mekel finished with seven points and nine assists. But seven of his assists and six of his points came in the first period, as he was shut down thereafter.
"You can pinpoint out so many things, but the end result is just energy,'' Akognon said. "We didn't have any energy.
"Everybody was talking, but nobody was really doing anything. So at this point at this level, you've got to be able to do something rather than talk.''
Mathis also was displeased with the Mavs' 19-of-30 showing at the free throw line.
"You work on it in practice and guys just got to step up and make free throws,'' Mathis said. "It's a free point.
"There's no defense at the free throw line the last time I checked. So whether you're a roster guy or not, you've got to step up and make some free throws.''
The Mavs led 37-34 at intermission and the game was tied, 57-57, after the third quarter. Overall, the Mavs limited the D-League team to just 41.1 percent shooting.
"Everybody was enthusiastic on the bench in that first quarter,'' Akognon said. "We were all talking about being up 30 and blowing them out and all that.''
But that never happened as the Mavs appeared to run into a brick wall.
Before he knew who the Mavs would next play the Clippers, Mathis was OK with whoever the Mavs were going to be matched against.
"We'll play whoever we need to play,'' Mathis said. "I think our guys will compete, and we can play with any team out here.
"We just got to cut down on some of those things that we're not doing well.''
-- Dwain Price
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