To beat a team like the Mavericks on the road, it takes a near perfect performance. And while the Kings played solidly in spurts, overall they were too loose defensively, failed to convert their free throws and got killed on the boards. Dallas, with six players in double figures, attacked the Kings from a variety of angles, exploiting Sacramento’s ineptitude in transition defense and defensive rotations. The Kings pulled within five points during a spirited run in the fourth quarter. But three straight turnovers killed the momentum, and the Mavericks cruised to a 110-100 win.
IMPROVING THE D – It’s never too hard to pinpoint the Kings problems on defense. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to improve. Against Dallas, the Kings were burned frequently when they failed to get back in transition. Whether a lack of hustle or taking a moment to argue with an official, Sacramento put themselves at an extreme disadvantage. Dallas knows how to pick apart a defense, and when they get a numbers advantage, it spells trouble. The poor transition defense combined with the Kings typical struggles in defending through screens also put Sacramento in the hole on the boards. Shawn Marion had a field day, snatching eight offensive rebounds, as Dallas outrebounded the Kings 56-40. One play in particular that stood out — Terrence Williams got back and blocked a shot on a fast break but because only one other Kings teammate had joined him in defense, the Mavs got about four extra chances and a basket. It’s about maturity, but it’s also about hustle.
DMC THE THIEF – Hard to quarrel with DeMarcus Cousins (38 MIN, 25 PTS, 11-21 FG, 18 REB, 3 AST, 3 TO, 6 STL, 2 BLK), who loaded the stat sheet in an impressive all-around game. Perhaps his greatest work came in the fourth quarter. DMC never gave up and continued laying it on the line until the final buzzer sounded. Diving for loose balls, one-handing rebounds, ferocious attacks to the basket. Cousins didn’t go into sulk-mode with the game slipping away; instead he turned up the intensity. Cousins continues to grow, and it was great to see him bounce back after struggling over the past three games.
KINGS ROOKIES EXCEL – Isaiah Thomas (32 MIN, 16 PTS, 7-15 FG, 2-7 3FG, 4 REB, 5 AST, 1 TO) had moments of brilliance against the Mavericks, and he was joined in productivity by Jimmer Fredette (21 MIN, 13 PTS, 5-13 FG, 3-7 3FG, 3 REB, 4 AST, 1 TO, 2 STL). At times, Isaiah attacked the basket with the poise of a veteran. It’s hard to say that a guy who took 15 shots needs to be more aggressive, but maybe he could have settled for fewer three-point attempts and gotten into the lane more. Nonetheless, Thomas played a strong game. Jimmer continues to settle in as the Kings scorer off the bench. Some shots were forced, no doubt, but his ability to score the basketball is starting to surface. And though he doesn’t run the point for the second unit, Jimmer is showing that he has the ability to create. It’s becoming more rare to see Jimmer overdribble and get caught in the air. Fredette showed no inhibitions letting it fly against Dallas. He’s playing his game, and that’s a good sign.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Great to have Marcus Thornton (38 MIN, 16 PTS, 7-16 FG, 4 TO) back after he missed the last four games. Some rust, but immediately picked up his role as the team’s most reliable shot maker … Donte Greene (23 MIN, 4 PTS, 1 REB, 3 AST, 2 TO, 2 BLK) got the start to guard Dirk Nowitzki. Solid defense, no offense, quiet game … The Kings made just 9-of-17 from the free throw line … T-Will (15 MIN, 2 PTS, 3 REB, 3 AST) never really found a rhythm, though he did display his court vision with some nifty passing.