LAS VEGAS – For 7 ½ minutes, the Heat’s Derrick Jones Jr. entertained the Cox Pavillion crowd Sunday with an assortment of dunks – either attacking the basket with the ball in his hands or by throwing down teammate’s miss on the put back.
But late in the first quarter those “oohs” and “aahs” turned to cringes after Jones rolled his ankle and was helped off the court.
The early diagnoses is a sprained right ankle and Jones did not return for the Heat’s 94-90 loss to the Hornets. Jones likely will not play again in summer league.
Jones was injured when he went up to block a shot and landed on somebody’s foot. He emerged from the locker room following the game with just a brace on his ankle. He said he still felt pain but was never concerned it was anything worse.
“It’s not something that I can’t tolerate,” he said. “Ankle sprains happen. It’s the game of basketball. So you’ve got to do what you can do.”
Coach Eric Glass was disappointed, especially after Jones’ start. He made all four of his shots including three dunks and a 3-pointer.
“He was on his way to a game, so it’s sort of disappointing,” Glass said. “We’ll see how he is tomorrow.”
Jones has been Miami’s best player during their first week of summer league games after signing a two-year contract on June 30. He averaged 21.3 points on 22-of-42 shooting in the three games in Sacramento, adding 22 rebounds, six steals and four blocks. He did not in the Heat’s first game in Las Vegas, a 110-84 loss to the Pelicans on Saturday.
Jones’ athletic ability was a big hit with the crowds in both cities with several highlight reel dunks that brought the fans out of their seats. One of those to see a big improvement is his Heat teammate, Josh Richardson.
“He’s been aggressive, attacking the rim,” said Richardson, who has been at Miami’s two games in Las Vegas. “His jump shot looks a lot better. He’s been knocking threes down. I’m proud of the work he’s put in.”
Daryl Macon led the Heat with 17 points Sunday as Glass gave Bam Adebayo the game off. Adebayo had played in four straight games.
After calling Saturday’s loss to New Orleans “embarrassing,” Glass was much happier with the effort Sunday.
“We had an overall presence on the court,” he said. “We had much better connection. We had much, much better communication. Our effort was better.
“It’s never going to be perfect, especially in summer league. There’s a lot of moving parts, a lot of new things. But that was a Miami Heat performance tonight. The last game I don’t know what that was.”
Landry Nnoko had 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Heat. Rashad Vaughn added 16 points.
The Heat (2-3 in summer league, 0-2 in Las Vegas) are off Monday. They return to action at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday against Utah.