Kiwi Corey Webster impresses in NBA Summer League as Dallas Mavericks almost pull off comeback
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 NZ 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 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.