The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Sacramento Kings Wednesday night, 123-119 in Dallas. The Mavericks came into the game with their season on the line, and pulled out a win. The victory ties the Mavericks with the Oklahoma City Thunder record-wise, though the Thunder hold on to the 10th and last play-in spot due to owning the tiebreaker over Dallas.
The first half was more of what we’ve seen since February, with the Mavericks scoring buckets on buckets on buckets, but offering almost zero resistance to the Kings offense. The Kings, playing on the second night of a back-to-back, started off the game looking tired. At one point, they missed 12 of 13 shots. But they found their rhythm, as teams often do against the Mavericks, and started getting into the paint, scoring easily, hitting some shots. The Kings went into the half leading 71-60.
In the third quarter, it was the Mavericks who caught fire, going 6-of-10 from deep. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Luka Doncic combined for 23 points, making six 3-pointers between the two of them. Dallas choked off the paint from the Kings, and surged ahead for a few minutes. The Kings battled back to tie the game by the end of the quarter, however.
Then the game lost its mind. The two teams traded baskets the entire fourth quarter, leading to a game that featured 16 lead changes. In the end, the Kings couldn’t stop Kyrie Irving from hitting back-breaking shot after shot. The Mavericks pulled out the win and kept their play-in tournament hopes alive.
Irving led all scorers with 31 points and dished out eight assists. Doncic scored 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Hardaway chipped in 24 points. De’Aron Fox led the Kings with 28 points. Domantas Sabonis had a triple-double, putting up 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.
Here are three thoughts from the game:
Fourth quarter Kyrie
It was easy to see why the Mavericks traded for Irving tonight. He went off in the fourth quarter, scoring 19 of his 31 points in the final period. And the thing is, he doesn’t just hit open shots or waltz to the lane for easy layups. They’re all incredibly difficult shots that are usually well defended. The Mavericks simply wouldn’t have won the game without him and his shot-making ability.
No second chances for the Mavericks
In a game they desperately needed, the Mavericks were killed on second-chance points. It’s an effort thing, most nights. It’s not like they’re the pre-Jakob Poeltl Toronto Raptors, trotting out a lineup of all 6’9” and under guys. Maxi Kleber, JaVale McGee, Christian Wood, and Dwight Powell are capable of getting a rebound. Doncic should provide Dallas with an advantage, a guard that size with the ability to get boards.
Instead, the Mavericks get killed on offensive rebounds most games, and give up a ton of second-chance points. That happened tonight. The Kings outscored the Mavericks 30-14 on second-chance points. They played like the more desperate team, despite their playoff spot being secure.
Once again, outshooting opponents is the only way Dallas can win
The Mavericks allowed the Kings to live in the paint most of the game, only finding a way to slow down the Kings interior scoring in the third quarter. Sacramento outscored the Mavericks 58-36 in the paint. But it didn’t matter, because the Mavericks rained down threes in the fourth quarter. They shot 45 percent from deep, compared to the Kings’ 32 percent. That’s been the case all year. If the Mavericks hit their shots from behind the arc, they look like world-beaters. If they don’t, they can lose to any team in the NBA.
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