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3 things we learned as the Mavs hold off the Kings, 103-97

The tank was filled up with gas, ready to rock, but ultimately sputtered in Sacramento.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Sacramento Kings Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

It was a strange first quarter at the Golden 1 Center. Protests surrounded the arena for the second straight game preventing many fans from entering. With a half-full arena and two tanking teams tipping off, the energy was lackluster at best. Nevertheless, the Mavs got off to a good start shooting 50 percent the field. Dennis Smith Jr. connected on a couple of deep balls early, and Harrison Barnes was distributing the ball tallying five assists. At one point, the Mavs had a 10 point lead, but the Kings were able to trim the lead late. Dallas took a 25-20 lead after one.

The second quarter was sloppy and uninspiring at the beginning. Neither team could buy a bucket and was careless with the ball. From a player development standpoint, Rick Carlisle dusted off Jonathann Motley and subbed him in with about six minutes left in the quarter. He was fun to watch as he continually attached Willy Cauley-Stein, rolled hard and created havoc in the pain with his activity. The Mavs were able to extend their lead thanks in large part to Barnes. He scored from all over the court, got to the free-throw line and tied a career-high assist mark with six. The Mavs took a 53-45 lead into the half.

The Mavs were able to push their third quarter lead to as large as 15 points. Smith Jr. was wheeling and dealing. He showcased a variety of skills, pushing the pace and setting up his teammates. Through three quarters he had 19 points and six assists. However, the Kings made a run late and were able to cut the lead to five as the Mavs took a 75-70 after three quarters.

The Kings opened the fourth quarter with a thunderous Cauley-Stein dunk, cutting the Mavs lead to three. Dallas responded with back-to-back jumpers from Yogi Ferrell and Doug McDermott to extend the lead to eight. McDermott continued his hot fourth quarter scoring on an alley-oop (he laid it in), and finishing a reverse on a beautiful behind the back feed from Kyle Collinsworth. From there it was mainly all Dallas as they stretched their lead to 18. The Kings made a run late, but it wasn’t enough as the Mavs beat the Kings 103-97. Barnes led the way for Dallas with 20 points, five rebounds and six assists, while Skal Labissiere paced Sacramento with 19 points and eight rebounds.

Dennis was fun

There’s really nothing exciting about this Mavs team at this point except DSJ. He made staying up for the late tip worth it with his dazzling play. He started the game off hot, canning his two three-point attempts. Later in the quarter, he lulled the defense asleep, blew by his defender, and unloaded a tomahawk jam:

Later in the game, Mavs fans received an answer to their collective prayers when Smith Jr. and Motley played the two-man game that resulted in a Motley jam:

There were other times this game where Smith Jr. demonstrated his athleticism and basketball savvy that make you forget he’s a rookie point guard. He didn’t play the fourth quarter but finished the game with 19 points and six assists on 50 percent shooting. He did commit five turnovers, which immediately reminded us he’s a rookie point guard. Overall, he was fun in a game between two awful teams. That’s what really mattered.


With many Mavericks sitting out, and not as many mouths to feed, McDermott had a greener light than usual, and he delivered. He shot 6-of-7 from the field (3-of-4 from three) on his way to 15 points and five rebounds. Before tonight McDermott was shooting an absurd 58 percent from deep, but each game he’s proving to be more than just a long-range specialist. He moves so well without the ball and usually scores off a few curls to the basket each game. McDermott is a player and a good acquisition by the front office.

Dirk has lost his jedi powers

Toward the end of the third quarter, Dirk fumbled his way into the backcourt thinking a backcourt violation would ensue. Apparently, no King had touched the ball, so it was live, and Dirk found himself in a sticky situation 70-plus feet from the basket with only a few seconds left on the shot clock. So, Dirk did what all shooters do. He chucked the rock with his golden arm from the opposite free throw line. Seeing that the ball might need some of his legendary touch to find the basket, he leaned to the left to guide the ball home. The ball clearly didn’t receive the jedi signals as it clanked off the top-right corner of the basket into the stratosphere. The same day Dirk tells Marc Stein a 21st season is in the future, the Maverick legend finally starts to show his age. He can no longer make baskets with his mind. Dirk and Holger will surely work on his mind tricks this summer.

We’re not worrying about the tank tonight, folks. It’s stressful, and it’s late. Goodnight.