Let the Kings struggles in Dallas continue. The last time Sacramento won in Dallas, it was a Keon Clark putback that sent them to victory. Yeah, that long. Playing their final game before the All-Star Break, the Kings provided very little entertainment value. The team just didn’t put forth consistent effort, and constant defensive breakdowns were the norm. The Mavericks let it rain from the perimeter, and Dallas coasted to a 123-100 victory.
VINSANITY’S FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH – Nothing like some spotty Kings defense to bring out the former superstar in Vince Carter. Nobody on Dallas benefited more from Sacramento’s awful defense than Carter, who torched the Kings in the third quarter. At times, you had to wonder if Sacramento even had a defender assigned to Carter. Even as he bombed away from long range, the Kings made no special effort to find him. The Kings even chose to double off of Carter, giving him an even clearer view of the basket. Sure, Carter (26 PTS) may be aging, but you don’t pass Larry Bird on the scoring list if you can’t make open shots. And he did plenty of that Wednesday night.
VALUE THE BALL? NAH – DeMarcus Cousins (29 MIN, 17 PTS, 5-9 FG, 13 REB, 2 AST, 5 TO) really played a solid game, and you can’t question his effort. Unfortunately, he was the Kings poster child for sloppy ball-handling against Dallas. Cousins was winging the ball all over the court, trying to throw passes through two defenders like he was Brett Favre. He wasn’t alone, and things especially deteriorated in the second half. Players trying to dribble through closed lanes highlighted a bigger problem: the Kings lack of direction on offense.
ANALYZING THE BACKCOURT – I still have questions about the cohesion of starting guards Isaiah Thomas and Tyreke Evans. It just seems like each player’s success is mutually exclusive. Evans (37 MIN, 23 PTS, 8-12 FG, 7-7 FT, 2 REB, 1 AST, 5 TO, 3 STL) again played a standout game in Dallas. His confidence is high, and he’s looking to attack the basket at any opportunity. You have to admire his talents. But with that success comes the flip side. Isaiah (29 MIN, 12 PTS, 4-12 FG, 3 AST, 2 TO) was again kept quiet, to the detriment of the Kings offense. Sacramento flows best when Thomas runs the show. In two home wins over the weekend, it looked like the Kings were turning a corner, letting Thomas be the true point guard. But in Memphis on Tuesday and again in Dallas, Thomas took a secondary ball-handling role to Evans (and Thomas played a poor game anyway). It remains to be seen whether these guys can find a happy medium.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – After sitting out five of the last six games due to coach’s decision, James Johnson (25 MIN, 16 PTS, 6-11 FG, 6 REB, 4 AST, 4 TO) returned to the floor, presumably to help defend Dirk Nowitzki. But it was Johnson’s offense that shone bright. The turnovers are a given with Johnson — it’s what keeps him from regular playing time — but he provided the Kings only offense off the bench, and props to him for being ready to roll after considerable time off … The Kings still can’t find perimeter scoring. Marcus Thornton sat out with a hand injury, and John Salmons, Francisco Garcia, Jimmer Fredette, Travis Outlaw and Tyler Honeycutt combined to go 4-for-25 from the floor. Ugly.