LAS VEGAS -- A guard led the Dallas Mavericks to a spirited 76-73 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday afternoon at COX Pavilion in the opener of the Las Vegas Summer League.
But it wasn't one of the Mavs' high profile rookie guards.
Josh Akognon, who lasted until the Mavs' final training cut last year, poured in a game-high 22 points to guide Dallas to an improbable victory over the Kings. The Mavs trailed by as much as 14 points, but with help from Akognon they were able to rally and pull out a win in the end.
Akognon started the game in the backcourt with rookie Gal Mekel. The other rookie, Shane Larkin, was back in Dallas after breaking his right ankle in Friday's practice.
Larkin's absence helped pave the way for Akognon and Mekel to receive more minutes against the Kings. And both players took advantage, with Akognon converting 8-of-14 shots, including 3-of-6 from three-point range.
“That’s my whole career, that’s why I’m playing pro basketball,’’ said Akognon, who recently averaged 29 and 28 points in two years playing in the Chinese Basketball Association. “A lot of the times they’re going to tell me to keep shooting any how, so my confidence is very high.
“It’s weird. Even if I’m missing shots I still feel like I’m making them. So that’s the blessing and a curse with me, but it did feel good to go in.’’
Mekel, meanwhile, collected 14 points, four rebounds and four assists, and was 5-of-10 from the floor. Mekel, though, stoped to pay homage to Akognon.
"He's a great shooter and I love to play with a great shooter and to find them,'' Mekel said. "Definitely, we play good together.''
-- Dwain Price
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