Joseph hits summer’s first rough patch

LAS VEGAS — His summer school teacher was absent Friday, but for Spurs point guard Cory Joseph, the education continued.

With Summer League coach Jacque Vaughn indisposed by a second interview with the Orlando Magic, Joseph was left to handle the first pressure situation of the week without his mentor’s guidance.

The results were what might be expected from a 20-year-old with all of 266 minutes of NBA experience.

Joseph committed three of his 10 turnovers in the final 1:24, and also missed two long 3-point tries, as Miami rallied for an 83-78 win at Cox Pavilion.

“I felt like I did a bad job down the stretch, keeping the guys calm and controlling the basketball,” Joseph said. “It’s part of the growing process.”

Joseph finished with nine points and six assists and missed 7 of 11 shots, turning in by far his worst outing in a Summer League that had otherwise been going well for him.

This is considered an important time for Joseph, the 29th pick in the 2011 draft after one season at Texas. The Spurs have until Oct. 31 to decide whether to pick up his contract option for the 2013-14 season.

Entering the game, Joseph was averaging 19.3 points and five assists while shooting 48.8 percent. Two nights earlier, he had opened eyes with a steady game against the L.A. Clippers’ Eric Bledsoe, an established NBA rotation player.

Spurs coaches have been impressed with Joseph’s poise and command of the team throughout the week, which had been solid until late in Friday’s game.

“It’s all about learning experience, game situations, clock management,” Vaughn, himself a former NBA point guard, said earlier in the week.

Friday’s lesson: How to bounce back from late-game missteps.

With the game in the balance, Joseph for the first time all week looked overwhelmed.

He admitted he lost command of the floor during the frantic final 2:37 that saw the Spurs go from four points ahead to five behind.

“They were double-teaming, and it forced me to give up the ball,” Joseph said. “They had us out of control, and we weren’t really running sets.”

It is an experience Joseph vows to learn from. After all, that is the point of Summer League.

Vaughn interviews again: With Vaughn meeting with Orlando’s ownership group elsewhere in Las Vegas, the reins to the Spurs’ Summer League team were handed to Taylor Jenkins, assistant coach of the Austin Toros.

It was a second interview for Vaughn, considered in some corners to be the front-runner to replace Stan Van Gundy with the Magic, and the first to include Magic CEO Alex Martins.

Vaughn’s availability for today’s finale against Dallas will largely be determined by the direction of Orlando’s coaching search.

Ajinca aims to be seen: When Slovenian prospect Erazem Lorbek chose to re-sign with his Spanish League club, it opened a window of opportunity — albeit ever so slight — for another big man to make the Spurs’ roster.

At 7-foot-2, and with 77 games of NBA work on his résumé, Alexis Ajinca is both the biggest and most experienced candidate to fill that void.

But his chance to make an impression might be running out. The 24-year-old Frenchman, a former first-round pick for Charlotte, had six points and six rebounds in 16 minutes Friday. It was by far his most active game of the week.

“So far, it’s been hard,” said Ajinca, who hasn’t played in the NBA since 2010-11 with Toronto. “I didn’t have any chance to prove what I’ve been working on. Tonight I had a lot of minutes to show what I’ve been working on overseas.”

Twitter: @JMcDonald_SAEN

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