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Mavericks storm back to defeat Kings 106-98

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After a disastrous first quarter, Dallas pulls off the third largest comeback in Mavericks history and Dirk passes Hakeem Olajuwon on the all-time scorers list.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It's pretty telling when you find yourself feeling a little upbeat after your team manages to cut the first quarter lead to 18, but it seemed like it was going to be that sort of night for the Mavericks. Nothing seemed to go right in the first quarter, and though things looked better in the second, the Mavericks' third-quarter curse loomed large as they went into the break down nine. But disaster gave way to history, as the Mavericks managed their third-largest comeback (the largest was 29 points in a December 2008 game against the Timeberwolves), Dirk passed Hakeem Olajuwon for ninth on the all-time scoring list, and the Mavs held on to the league's second-longest active home wins streak (Sacramento hasn't won a regular season game in Dallas since February of 2003).

No single Maverick had a stellar stat line tonight, but the long rally was thanks to solid play from the starters who aren't Jameer Nelson and to contributions off the bench from Devin Harris and Brandan Wright.

Unless you're a glutton for punishment, go ahead and scroll on down to the second quarter, but if you're just dying to know what happened in the first... well, it was basically this:

This game opened with a whole lotta fouls and not very many buckets. The Kings managed to put eight points up before Dallas got on the board at the eight-minute mark with a Devin Harris (very) long two. It would be two minutes, two fouls, and one timeout before anyone else in a Mavericks jersey managed to follow.

While Sacramento has been playing much better than expected defense this year (Boogie managed to draw two charges in the opening quarter alone), the Mavs also had a series of sloppy turnovers and missed shots, including an uncharacteristic blown layup from Dirk, and by the end of the quarter, Sacramento was up by 18 and killing the Mavs in every possible way. Aside from their horrific shooting (they were 23.5% from the field and 0 for 4 from three), the Mavs recorded a whopping ONE assist that whole quarter, accompanied by five turnovers. Plus fouls. Plenty of fouls.

Chandler Parsons' performance in this quarter provided more fodder for those concerned the Mavs aren't getting what they paid for out of their shiniest offseason acquisition. He opened the game missing an open long two early in the short clock and missed a few more before sitting down later in the first.

Also, a special shout-out to the refs, who insisted on making their presence known to both teams, calling seven fouls in the first three minutes and making an already hard to watch first quarter even more tedious.

Luckily, the Mavericks offense started to look a bit like its old self in the second quarter, and they managed to dig themselves part of the way out of the burning garbage pit they fell into during the first. They still had some trouble getting stops, but by halftime things weren't looking quite so bleak.

Although two quick buckets from Harris started the quarter off right, it still felt like the Kings had the momentum, and the lead swelled to 24 before things started to get any better. But after the TV timeout, the Mavs finally seemed to catch a few breaks. Brandan Wright dunked! Jae Crowder connected on a long two! The Mavs benefitted from an off-ball foul call during Crowder's shot AND a technical foul! Of course, they missed both of those free-throw opportunities, but that seemed to mark a turnaround. The Mavs started making shots and grabbing boards and cut down on the sloppy turnovers.

Despite a scary moment when Chandler Parsons fell down and stayed down on defense after some knee-to-knee contact, his second quarter play was vastly improved on both ends. Thanks to Parsons, to an awesome Dirk three in the last minute, and to a little regression to the mean for both team's three-point shooters, the Mavericks managed to pull within six later in the quarter.

But a quick make from the Kings and an almost-buzzer beater from Parsons that rimmed out meant the Mavs went into halftime down nine.

Contrary to expectations, Dallas continued the turn around in the third, opening the quarter like they've been reading what we've all been saying, playing efficient offense and defense that looked at times like the team was actually trying. As the Mavs' perimeter shooting continued to heat up, it was clear the Kings were missing Darren Collison, who was sidelined with a shoulder injury. The first half saw some very efficient shooting from both Rudy Gay and Ben McLemore, but it wasn't enough to counter the Mavs much-improved offense as the game went on.

The Mavs pulled within one about halfway into the third, and an offensive foul by Boogie Cousins (his fourth) gave Dallas the ball and the chance to take the lead after Monta drew a foul driving to the basket. He split his free-throws to tie the game, but scored on the next possession to give Dallas its first lead of the game.

The teams traded buckets to keep the game close for the rest of the third until Monta Ellis, MVP of the third, hit an amazing buzzer beater from deep to push the Mavericks' lead to eight.

Dallas' lead waxed and waned through the fourth, but they still seemed to have the game firmly in hand.The biggest moment of the quarter had little bearing on this game, but came just over three minutes in when Dirk hit a jumper to pass Hakeem for ninth on the all-time scorer's list, and the ACC broke-out into "MVP!" chants. It almost made sitting through that first quarter worth it (almost).

Final score: 106-98. Both teams are now 5-3.