Second-year guard leads Mavericks to win in summer opener

Posted Saturday, Jul. 13, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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When he’s in trouble on the court, Josh Akognon’s first instinct is to shoot the basketball.

That formula worked well for the pint-sized point guard Saturday at Cox Pavilion as Akognon scored a game-high 22 points to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a 76-73 victory over the Sacramento Kings in the opener of the Las Vegas Summer League.

“I don’t want to sound obnoxious, but I felt like there were a lot of shots I could have made better and did a lot of better things,“ said the 5-foot-11 Akognon, who was 8 of 14 from the field. “But as far as the game, we fell back so far and just the sense of urgency kicked in for us.

“For me, my immediate thing goes to scoring — scoring, scoring, scoring — to get us back in the game. So that was my mind, and then once we got it back I wanted to play a little bit better defense if I could.”

Akognon was on the Mavericks’ training camp roster last year, but he was one of the final players cut. He signed a 10-day contract on April 3, and the Mavericks signed him for the remainder of the season on April 13.

Despite his performance Saturday, Akognon might have difficulties making the Mavericks’ final roster on a guard-heavy team that includes Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis, Wayne Ellington, Ricky Ledo, Gal Mekel and Shane Larkin. Still, putting the ball in the basket has never been an issue for Akognon, who helped the Mavericks overcome a 14-point deficit.

Akognon is hoping for another banner day at 5 p.m. Sunday when the Mavericks play the Charlotte Bobcats.

No lead assistant

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle has decided not to have a lead assistant coach on his bench this season.

After the conclusion of last season, Mavericks assistant coach Jim O’Brien retired and was replaced by former Portland assistant coach Kaleb Canales, who is a graduate of UT Arlington.

“We are fortunate that Kaleb Canales became available and had interest in joining the Mavs’ organization,” Carlisle said. “Kaleb has worked for the Portland Trail Blazers’ organization in multiple capacities for the last nine years, and brings great knowledge, enthusiasm and work ethic to the Mavs.”

Carlise said Canales will join Monte Mathis and Tony Brown on the bench and “take over in coach O’Brien’s capacity of coordinating our offense.”

Crowder’s impact

Second-year forward Jae Crowder impacted Saturday’s game on both ends of the floor.

Crowder scored 16 points, collected eight rebounds and helped hold Kings rookie sensation Ben McLemore to 11 points on 4-of-23 shooting.

“I just want to make good plays,” Crowder said. “I think down in the clutch I made good plays to give us that lead and kept playing good defense.

“I’ve been working this off-season, so I’ll be able to come into training camp ready to play basketball.”

No jitters

Gal Mekel started at point guard Saturday and turned in a solid overall floor game. The rookie from Israel finished with 14 points, four rebounds and assists, and was 5 of 10 from the field.

“In the beginning I was a little bit excited,” Mekel said. “It took me like three or four minutes to get into the rhythm. But after you get warm, you forget about those things, and for me it was a great experience.”

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @dwainprice

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