Refining Roddy Beaubois' point guard skills and giving rookie guard Dominique Jones a taste of pro basketball topped the Dallas Mavericks' to-do list, as the squad headed to Las Vegas for the annual NBA Summer League.
Friday, the process of pairing the backcourt mates and budding stars began, when the Mavericks tipped off their five-game schedule with the Denver Nuggets first at bat. Instead of bringing Jones along slowly as Beaubois ran the show, the Mavericks were forced to rely on the rookie -- and the first-year pro was forced to shouldered the load while the sophomore struggled to find a rhythm.
But not even a 19-point game from Jones was enough to overcome Beaubois' 3-for-16 shooting (0-for-9 from three-point range), as the Mavericks fell in their debut, 88-70.
"Once I do something new, I am nervous...But then I get the hang of it," Jones said of his first NBA action. "This is the first time and I am getting comfortable with different things. It's tough to get used to, tough to get comfortable with. I feel very good about what I did today, even though I dont feel like I did my best."
The start of the game foreshadowed how bad things would be for the Mavericks. With Beaubois struggling offensively and going 0-for-5 from the field in the first quarter, Jones handled the scoring responsibilities with eight points in the early going. Despite No. 20's best efforts, the Mavericks found themselves down 23-17 at the end of one.
The two first-round picks from the past two drafts sat at the start the second quarter, and the Denver advantage grew to double figures in the meantime. When the duo returned to the court, Jones once again relentlessly attacked the rim and found much success by getting to the foul line. However, Beaubois' struggles continued, as the Denver defense forced the second-year guard into uncharacteristic turnovers. The result was a 47-27 halftime deficit for the Mavericks.
Things got worse before they got better for the Mavs in the third quarter, falling behind by as much as 23. But the Mavericks rallied back and Beaubois battled through his shooting struggles after missing nine of his first 10 shots. Abandoning the long-range shot and attacking the basket, Beaubois and Jeremy Lin helped to cut the disadvantage to 64-53 heading into the fourth.
"I think i showed some of my game, but not all of it," Lin said.
Though 2008 second-round selection Shan Foster did his best to keep the Mavericks in the game, second-year Nuggets guard Ty Lawson put the finishing touches on the Denver win with his play-making and offensive command in the fourth. With the game no longer in doubt, Beaubois and Jones watched from the sideline for much of the final period.
Jones' scoring output was a game-high, doing much of his damage at the charity stripe. The former South Florida standout connected on just five of 13 shots from the field, but swished in nine of 12 strokes at the foul line.
As they did to the entire Dallas roster, the Nuggets forced Jones into five turnovers, one shy of Beaubois' game-high six giveaways.
"There were a couple of mistakes I shouldn't have made. I was a little nervous, I had the jitters," Jones said.
Though Beaubois, Lin and Foster all posted 12 points apiece, the Mavericks' 25 total turnovers and 37 percent shooting was too much to withstand.
"It was definitely fun," Lin said. "Obviously, it didn't go how we wanted it to. But it was good to get up and down the court, play five-on-five -- haven't done that in awhile."
At the other end of the floor, Coby Karl and Richard Roby led Denver to 48 percent shooting from the field with 16 points each.
The Mavericks return to the court on Saturday, when they square off with the Houston Rockets. The game will air nationally on NBA TV and locally on TXA 21 at 9 p.m. CT.
"I feel like I'm going to come back stronger tomorrow and we are going to get the win," Jones said with confidence.
Mavericks' Summer League remaining schedule:
July 10 vs. Houston 9 p.m. CT NBA TV/ TXA 21
July 12 vs. Milwaukee 7 p.m. CT NBA TV/ TXA 21
July 15 vs. Washington 7 p.m. CT NBA TV/ TXA 21
July 18 vs. Sacramento 7 p.m. CT NBA TV/ TXA 21
Jeremy Lin will keep you in the loop all Summer League with his video blog exclusively on Mavs.com. Take a look: