We're over .500! Had anyone told me after that after Clippers beat down that the Dallas Mavericks (11-10) would be a winning team a week later I would have laughed in a sad, pathetic, mildly crazy way. But with a huge offensive night against the young Sacramento Kings (7-13), that's exactly where we are, ladies and gentlemen. Relish it. The schedule gets rough in a hurry.
When a game starts out with a Derek Fisher jumper falling, it's probably a good sign. Dallas got off to an early lead forcing a Sacramento timeout. Some wide open threes and DeMarcus Cousins beasting on the offensive glass saw Sacramento take the lead at 23-21. Vince Carter and O.J. Mayo each answered with respective PUJIT's ("Pull up jumper in transition", for the uninformed. It's a great acronym. I suggest using it all the time, even in situations that don't call for it), but a few more Kings offensive rebounds resulted in them taking the lead back, 28-27. Dallas made a big push at the end of the quarter, in part powered by King's turnovers, to finish the quarter 36-29. Mayo had 12 and Chris Kaman had 10, each starting the game on fire.
The first six minutes of the second quarter were terrible for the Kings; Dallas held them to zero points while pushing the lead to 48-29. Turnovers were the main culprit, with five in the timeframe. Sacramento threw a zone at Dallas to try to get the guys out of their comfort zones. It worked as ball movement got sloppy for a time, but the Kings were unable to convert any shots. Some free throws finally got the lid off the bucket for the Kings but fantastic ball movement by Dallas coupled with even more turnovers from the Kings saw the Mavs push the lead to 28 points, 61-33 with a little under three minutes left in the half. A three from Francisco Garcia along with DeMarcus Cousins punishing Chris Kaman saw that lead whittle down to 20, but Mayo got fouled on the final possession, so Dallas took a 65-43 lead with them to the locker room for halftime.
The third quarter started with what felt like a Maverick trademark; shots stopped falling and the other team made a run. Cousins scored two quick buckets, followed by a drive and dish to Garcia for three and the lead was suddenly down to 15. Dallas traded buckets for a bit, keeping the lead at 15 for a while before Cousins again decided to assert his will, bringing the Kings back to within 11 with help from Garcia. But, once again the Kings were bit by the turnover bug. Brand and Collison each scored in transition to push the lead back to 15, 81-66. Dallas finished the quarter with an offensive board by Crowder followed by a ridiculous behind the back pass and lay in by Brand. A block by Vince Carter resulted in a wide open transition three from Mayo and Dallas took an 88-70 lead into the final frame.
The last period held to form, only names were exchanged. Though a James Johnson "and-1" brought the Kings back within 15, Jae Crowder poured in five quick points followed by a Derek Fisher three pointer produced by excellent ball movement. Crowder and Collison had back to back steals which resulted in Dallas pushing the lead to 108-82, causing Carlisle proceeded to clear his bench, at one point playing all three rookies at the same time. The Dallas bench continued to press the issue, finishing the game 118 to 96.
-I'm well aware that Cousins is a King, but let's take a minute to marvel at his athletic talent. I know Kaman could occassionaly qualify as a replacement zombie from the Walking Dead, but Cousins has spectacular footwork. I'm not really sure why Coach Smart played him only 35 minutes. He destroyed Dallas in spurts.
-One of the great things about the title team was the three point shooting specialists. Right now, outside of Mayo and Carter, Dallas is sorely lacking consistency. There were numerous occasions where Collison or Dahntay Jones ended up wide open in the corner. It's okay that neither is good at that shot (though its the most efficient shot on the floor if you have a good shooter, like say, Ray Allen), but Dallas could sorely use someone who shoots it with confidence. The Kings had one tonight in Garcia, who killed Dallas to the tune of 25 points, including seven threes. I wonder if he'd be available. His contract is pretty good!
-Mayo had another hot start but cooled as the game went along. That Dallas didn't need his offense for a night was reassuring.
-Dallas won the turnover battle, 19 to 8. This is a good step as ball control keeps the team in rhythm.
-In statistical oddities, offensive juggernaut Dahntay Jones shot eight free throws. In the previous 20 games he shot 28 free throws total.
-Jae Crowder had the stat line we all dream about for him: 11 points 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals. What's more, he was able to hit those midrange shots that as of late have made me cringe. I really don't know if he's able to shoot those shots, but for now, I'll take it. His shot selection in general has been questionable, rebounding the ball, stepping into passing lanes on defense, and making the right pass is all we can and should expect from a second round rookie. Everything else is icing.
-Brandan Wright can jump really high. #Analysis
-Can anyone else tell if Jared Cunningham is good? He made an incredibly athletic play for a lay in, then followed that up by losing the ball in transition and a 12 foot airball. He also looks like he's 15.
Anyway, another good win. 11-10! See everyone Wednesday as Dallas heads to Boston.
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