Web­ster ig­nites Mavs in league semi­fi­nal

The Southland Times - - SPORT - MARC HINTON

For just a mo­ment there Corey Web­ster looked set to in­spire some­thing spe­cial from the Dal­las Mav­er­icks as they came roar­ing back in the fourth quar­ter to make a game of their NBA Sum­mer League semi­fi­nal against Lonzo Ball and the LA Lak­ers.

But as the sharp­shoot­ing Kiwi fi­nally found his range late, to help the Mavs re­duce a deficit that hit 25 in the sec­ond quar­ter to just a sin­gle point (96-95) with 2:16 left in the game, the come­back hit the wall.

In the end the Mav­er­icks couldn’t buy a bucket, or a stop, when they re­ally needed it and the Lak­ers got home 108-98 on the back of a 12-3 run over the fi­nal two min­utes to ad­vance to the fi­nal against the Port­land Trail­blaz­ers.

Whether Web­ster has done enough through the Sum­mer League to earn him­self a full NBA deal, or one of these ‘‘two-way’’ con­tracts that have been added to the land­scape (en­abling teams to carry an ad­di­tional two ros­ter play­ers who can al­ter­nate be­tween the G-League and the big league for up to 45 days) re­mains to be seen.

But the 28-year-old Tall Blacks and for­mer New Zealand Break­ers guard, who will ply his trade in Europe if he doesn’t crack the NBA, has cer­tainly im­pressed the Mavs over his time with them in Ve­gas.

Af­ter scor­ing 10 points in 21 min­utes in their quar­ter­fi­nal vic­tory over the Bos­ton Celtics, the Kiwi played 24 min­utes off the bench in the semi­fi­nal against the Lak­ers.

He did not look out of place among the ar­ray of ris­ing young stars and jour­ney­men hop­ing to play their way on to NBA ros­ters.

Web­ster fin­ished with just five points on two- of-seven shoot­ing, to go with three re­bounds, three as­sists and a steal.

But af­ter start­ing zero-for-five, he made two big jumpers (in­clud­ing a fake-and-drib­ble triple) in the fourth quar­ter to help the Mavs haul in that big deficit and set up the ex­cit­ing fin­ish that had never looked likely.

The New Zealan­der was also one of Dal­las’ bet­ter de­fend­ers as he showed his abil­ity to dis­rupt on the ball with his foot­speed and ag­gres­sion.

Mav­er­icks Sum­mer League coach, and for­mer Aus­tralian NBL im­port, Jamahl Mosley said Web­ster had im­pressed him in Ve­gas.

‘‘He’s a tough kid. I love him,’’ Mosley told nbl.com.au.

‘‘He’s men­tally tough, he’s phys­i­cally tough and he’s easy to coach.

‘‘I think he def­i­nitely has a chance [to make the NBA].

‘‘He’s a spe­cial­ist with his abil­ity to make shots but he de­fends very well and can guard three po­si­tions just be­cause of his grit­ti­ness. That’s go­ing to help him a lot.’’

The Mavs trailed the Lak­ers by as many as 25 in the sec­ond quar­ter, by 22 at half­time and were still in a 17-point hole at the end of the third pe­riod be­fore they launched that come­back.

Den­nis Smith Jnr paced the Mav­er­icks with 21 points (7/13 FG) and six as­sists, while Yogi Fer­rell added 15 points and five dimes.

The Lak­ers got 16 points, 10 as­sists and four re­bounds in just 21 min­utes out of No 2 draft pick and league MVP can­di­date Lonzo Ball be­fore he ex­ited the game in the third quar­ter with calf sore­ness. Kyle Kuzma added an im­pres­sive 24 points (8/14 FG, 5/7 3PT) and five boards, while Matt Thomas’ 20 points in­cluded five of six from be­yond the arc.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.