2017 Summer League Recap: Thunder vs. Dallas Mavericks – July 5, 2017

By Nick Gallo | Thunder Basketball Writer | mailbag@okcthunder.com

ORLANDO – Every game in Summer League is a learning experience, and for the Thunder its lesson today came very early.

In a 96-75 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the Thunder fell behind by 23 after the end of one quarter, and had to play uphill the rest of the way. The Thunder turned it over seven times and shot just 37 percent in the opening frame while the Mavericks lit it up from three-point range. The message to the team after was about developing the type of consistent mental energy that can be carried out for all four quarters.

Semaj scores 14 in the first half. Thunder vs Mavs at Summer League. Live on #nbatv

A post shared by Oklahoma City Thunder (@okcthunder) on

“Every game is different. It’s a 40-minute game,” Thunder Summer League coach Mark Daigneault said. “Today we didn’t start well at all. We dug ourselves a hole that we couldn’t get out of.”

“We just have to bounce back. We had a rough one today,” center Dakari Johnson echoed. “We have one more chance to redeem ourselves and come back tomorrow and get a win.”

While Johnson and Josh Huestis were back in action today, the Thunder rested guard Daniel Hamilton while guard Marcus Paige and forward Vince Hunter moved on to the Las Vegas Summer League. Just like in the G-League, Summer League rosters are often in flux, so it’s a great test for coaches and players alike to adjust to different minutes, rotations and combinations.

Watch: Highlights From Day 5

“The nature of the G-League and Summer League is that is how it is for everybody,” Daigneault said. “You control what you can control. The thing that I like about it is that it gives the opportunity to other players to prove what they can do.”

It wasn’t Thunder point guard Semaj Christon’s best game of the Summer League, but he did chip in 16 points on 7-for-15 shooting and eight assists. More importantly, however, he was extremely vocal and displayed an elevated level of intensity and leadership for his teammates. Even in the midst of challenging circumstances down by 20-plus, Christon helped steady the team.

“He’s a great competitor,” Johnson said of Christon. “He’s feisty. That’s what helps him. He’s going to compete and battle.”

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Johnson Continues to Show Unique Skill Set

It’s not often that you see a 7-foot, 250-pound center working over defenders with crossover dribbles behind halfcourt and at the top of the key. Dakari Johnson this year in Summer League has made that a normal occurrence. As he did with more frequency as the OKC Blue’s 2016-17 season went along, Johnson brought the ball up the court and dribbled past his Mavericks defender. Even in the halfcourt, Johnson was isolated with the ball, dribbling in from the top of the key to get all the way to the rim.

“That’s kind of a layer to his game,” Daigneault said. “He’s a guy who has a lot of skill. You try to figure out ways to leverage the skills of your best players.”

For the game, Johnson scored 18 points on 8-for-11 shooting in 24 minutes.


Up Next:

The Thunder will be in the 3rd and 4th place game on Thursday’s final day of Summer League, at 11:00am CT against the Indiana Pacers. The game will be televised on NBATV and there will be full postgame coverage on okcthunder.com.