Setting the Table: Sacramento Kings (Game 37)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on January 10, 2013 under Previews | Be the First to Comment

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The Dallas Mavericks (13-23) complete their brutal 16 of 23 stretch of road games as they take on the Sacramento Kings (13-22). Dallas is 3-12 in those previous 15 road games and 6-26 overall on the road this season. The Kings are actually playing well at home as they have won four of their last five home games. In three of the four games, the Kings shot 50 percent or better from the field and 80 percent or better from the free throw line. Sacramento recorded more assists than their opponents in each of the four games, dishing out 25 or more assists in each contest. The Kings had leads of 15 or more points in each game. DeMarcus Cousins averaged 17.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 6.7 assists, and 2.0 steals in three home games (he did not see action in the December 23 game vs. Portland).

Dallas has lost 13 of their last 15 games. It’s time to turn things around before things take a major, major turn for the worse, which is possible.

Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Kings.

Series Notes:

Dallas has won 28 of the last 34 regular-season meetings with Sacramento. The Mavericks took the first meeting between the two teams this season (119-96) at Dallas on Dec. 10, 2012. O.J. Mayo (19), Chris Kaman (18), Darren Collison (15), Dahntay Jones (11), Derek Fisher (11) and Jae Crowder (11) all scored in double figures for the Mavericks in the win. The Mavericks have now won 17 consecutive home games against the Kings. It’s the Mavericks’ longest active home winning streak against any team. The Kings have not won in Dallas since Feb. 27, 2003, when they recorded a 126-124 overtime-victory. The Mavericks held the Kings to just 60 points on 22-of-86 (.256) shooting in the game at Dallas on Jan. 14, 2012, defeated Sacramento 99-60, setting new franchise opponent lows for points (was 65 at Minnesota Feb. 27, 2007), field goals made (was 23 at Indiana, 23-67, Dec. 6, 2005) and field goal percentage (was .296, 24-81, at Minnesota Feb. 27, 2007). The Mavericks held the Kings to just 23 points in the first half of the game on Jan. 14, 2012 (Dallas led 52-23 at the break), marking an all-time low for points in a half by a Dallas opponent. The previous franchise opponent low for points in a half was 24 by Vancouver (at Dallas Mar. 13, 1999, in the first half).

The Kings snapped a 10-game losing streak against the Mavericks with a 110-97 win at Sacramento on Mar. 9, 2012. It marked their first regular-season win over the Mavericks since Jan. 11, 2009, defeated Dallas 120-95. It also snapped the Mavericks’ four-game road winning streak against the Kings. Dallas recorded a 110-100 victory in the rubber match between the two teams last season at Dallas on Apr. 10, 2012, and took the 2011-12 season series, 2-1. Dirk Nowitzki averaged 14.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 26.3 minutes in three starts against the Kings in 2011-12. Nowitzki (right knee surgery) did not play not play in the first meeting between the two clubs this season at Dallas on Dec. 10, 2012. Eight players scored in double figures for Dallas in the game against Sacramento on Feb. 6, 2011, marking the first time the Mavericks had eight players in double digits since Apr. 6, 1993.

It’s a Small World:

Kings head coach Keith Smart coached in Golden State from 2003-11, seven seasons as an assistant with Golden State from 2003-10 and one year as the head coach of the Warriors in 2010-11, where he coached Mavericks forward Brandan Wright for three-and-a-half seasons from 2007-11. Dahntay Jones signed with Sacramento as a free agent in December 2007 and averaged 3.2 points, 1.4 rebounds and 8.4 minutes per game in 25 games with the Kings, before being waived by the club in February 2008. Kings player development coach Fat Lever played four seasons for the Mavericks from 1990-94 and averaged 8.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.8 steals in 116 games. Kings assistant coach Alex English also played one season for the Mavericks in 1990-91 and averaged 9.7 points in 79 games.

Three Keys:

1. Don’t break down in the fourth quarter. Dallas has scored less than 20 points in five of their last eight fourth quarters. Eeesh. The Mavericks lost all five of those games. They have scored a combined total of 32 points in their last two fourth quarters. Dallas has averaged 18.3 points in the fourth quarter over their last 8 games (1-7 record). They simply aren’t closing out games well. They need to find that final gear where they can hang with teams and have the ability to put them away.

2. Contain DeMarcus Cousins. Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, entering his third season, is leading the Kings in scoring at 17.2 points per game and rebounding 10.2 rebounds per game, 10th in NBA. He has recorded double-doubles in six of the last seven games. On January 4 at Toronto, Cousins recorded a game-high 31 points, a game-high and career-high-tying 20 rebounds, four assists, and two steals in 33 minutes. It was Cousins second career 20-point, 20-rebound performance. He’s an incredibly versatile center and the Mavericks need to do whatever they need to do to try to slow him down.

3. Operate with more proficiency in the pick and roll with Dirk Nowitzki. The Mavericks seem to be doing a bad job with recognition when Dirk sets screens. The guys he sets screens for zoom past the open area and don’t look back to see what Dirk is doing. They turn the corner and try to do too much with the ball. If they do happen to pass the ball to Dirk, it’s after a few dribbles and that has allowed the defense to recover back to him. Dirk is setting screens to help his teammates, but he’s also doing it to create a mismatches for himself. It feels like there is too much tunnel vision going on, guys trying to right the ship on their own. Everyone needs to settle down and play simple pick and roll basketball.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.