The Dallas Mavericks (22-29) must get back on the horse and continue their climb up the mountain as they take on the Sacramento Kings (19-34). The game will be the final game for both teams before the All-Star break. It will be the fourth game of a five-game homestand for Dallas. Sacramento is coming in on the second night of a back-to-back as they suffered a 108-101 loss in Memphis to the Grizzlies.
It will be interesting to see how Dallas comes out to start this game. They suffered a crippling loss to the Atlanta Hawks in their previous game. Dirk Nowitzki called it as frustrating of a loss as you can possibly get in the league. The team knew that they needed to dominate this homestand in their quest to sneak into the playoffs. Another late-game struggle led to the loss and the team must find a way to bounce back and end the “first half” of the season on a good note. If they don’t, look out.
Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Kings.
Dallas has won 13-of-14 and 29 of the last 35 regular-season meetings with Sacramento. The Mavericks took the first meeting between the two teams this season 119-96 at Dallas on Dec. 10. The Mavericks have now won 17 consecutive home games against the Kings. It’s their longest ever home winning streak against one opponent. The Kings have not won in Dallas since Feb. 27, 2003, when they recorded a 126-124 overtime-victory.
Dallas recorded a 117-112 overtime-win at Sacramento on Jan. 10 and now lead the 2012-13 season series, 2-0. The Mavericks have taken five of the last six road meetings with the Kings. O.J. Mayo is averaging 21.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.0 steals and 35.0 minutes in two starts against the Kings in 2012-13. Vince Carter is averaging 15.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 27.0 minutes in two games against Sacramento this season. Shawn Marion (strained right groin) did not play against the Kings on Dec. 10, but had 19 points, 10 rebounds and two steals for Dallas in the overtime-win on Jan. 10. Dirk Nowitzki (right knee surgery) was unavailable for the game on Dec. 10, but recorded 17 points and nine boards in the win on Jan. 10.
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 Kings snapped a 10-game losing streak against the Mavericks with a 110-97 win at Sacramento on Mar. 9, 2012. It was their first win over the Mavericks since Jan. 11, 2009 (defeated Dallas 120-95). 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 spent eight seasons in Golden State from 2003-11 (seven seasons as an assistant from 2003-10 and one year as the head coach 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 in 25 games, 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.
1. Have an inspiring start to the game. Atlanta hit the ground running in Dallas’ previous game. The game saw Atlanta start on a 10-0 run and lead the entire first half. Rick Carlisle took the blame for the slow start, but the onus is also on the players. They know the situation they’re in when it comes to their standing of potentially making the playoffs. They need to show a stronger and consistent sense of urgency, starting with the game against the Kings. They have to run and attack the Kings as they’re on their second night of a back-to-back. The Mavericks are playing their NBA leading 13th home game tonight vs a team playing on the 2nd night of a back-to-back (10-2 record). With their record, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities to see Sacramento checking out of the game with the break on the horizon. Two losses in a row going into the break is the last thing the Mavericks want to do.
2. Defend. The recent stretch of games for both teams suggest this could be an up and down game. It could be windshield wiper basketball for everyone. The Kings are averaging 112.7 points per game in the last three games after averaging 83.3 points per game in the previous four games. The Mavericks are averaging 106.9 points per game on 46.7 percent shooting over their last 15 games (9-6 record). Dallas has scored 100-plus points in 13 of its last 15 games. If the Mavericks can play some sound defense and get out in transition, they’ll head into the break on a good note.
3. Don’t lose. Simply put, Dallas can’t lose this game. Like the game against Golden State where it was a favorable situation, this is another favorable situation as Sacramento is playing their fourth games in five nights. You have to respect your opponent, but the Mavericks simply have to key in on DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins is averaging 27.0 points per game (.613 field goal percentage, .696 free throw percentage) and 7.5 rebounds in two games this season vs. Dallas. With Chris Kaman still out, it will be interesting to see how Cousins matches up against a more active defender in the form of Bernard James (as long as he still starts).
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.