DALLAS -- If Dominique Jones becomes a permanent fixture in the Dallas Mavericks' rotation this season, he can thank his performance in the two preseason games against Oklahoma City for making that happen.
In Sunday's opener against the Thunder, Jones contributed a team-high tying 17 points, a game-high seven assists and a team-high tying three steals. He also was 4 of 9 from the field while playing 28 minutes off the bench.
In Tuesday's preseason finale against the Thunder, Jones was in the starting backcourt alongside Jason Kidd and wound up playing 27 minutes. And although Jones finished with just seven points (1 of 6 field goals), four assists, four rebounds and five turnovers, coach Rick Carlisle was relatively pleased with what he saw from the second-year guard from South Florida.
"I liked the beginning of the game," Carlisle said. "He had a great game (Sunday), so I guarantee you they watched three or four minutes of film on him and [Roddy] Beaubois.
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"This is the reality of the NBA. If you have a good game, two nights later they're into your stuff and they're making it hard on you."
And it was hard on Jones on Tuesday as the Thunder paid extra attention to his whereabouts.
"I think it was all right," Jones said of his performance. "I made some mistakes out there, but it's good just getting a feel for everything.
"Especially when you haven't played in an NBA game in a whole year."
This is a big year in Jones' maturation process, especially with what transpired in what amounts to a lost rookie season.
Jones struggled early last season and was demoted to play for the D-League's Texas Legends. But after being called back up to the Mavericks, Jones missed the final 30 regular-season games and the entire playoffs with a stress fracture in his right foot.
On Tuesday, Jones started in the spot normally handled by newcomer Vince Carter. Carter, who sat out Tuesday, is expected to be the starting shooting guard in Sunday's regular-season opener against Miami.
However, with so many of the 66 games in the upcoming season stacked on top of each other, the Mavericks know they're going to need some production out of Jones.
"I think Dominique made a step up from last year," forward Dirk Nowitzki said. "He looks poised out there, he looks good, he knows when to drive, he's a good playmaker when he gets into the lane, and he can shoot the floater or find the shooter.
"So I like the progress that he's made. But like everybody else, he's got to keep getting better."
Jones played in just 18 games last year and averaged 2.3 points and 1.1 assists in 7.5 minutes per contest. He last played in a regular-season NBA game on Feb. 2 against the New York Knicks, and probably would have benefited from some summer league action.
But the summer leagues were canceled because of the lockout. Jones, however, is grateful he was able to show what he could do against a team as talented as the Thunder.
"The main thing is it's just good to be out there for me right now," Jones said. "I'm still just adjusting to playing and how to guard people and different things like that out there on the court, because I feel like you learn on the court.
"You learn a lot off the court, but some of it is on the court, too. So just being out there was fun."
Center Sean Williams signed a two-year contract with the Mavs on Wednesday. A defensive and shot-blocking specialist, the 6-foot-10, 235-pound Williams is a Mansfield High School product who will compete with Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi for playing time.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760