Mavs shoot down Kings
The Dallas Mavericks began Saturday night’s game with the ultimate mismatch in high-scoring 7-foot forward Dirk Nowitzki.
Nowitzki scored what looked like an easy 39 points to befuddle the Kings during a 126-108 victory before a crowd of 15,247 at Arco Arena.
The Kings rarely showed an ability to slow the Mavericks (53-27) offensively. Dallas’ offense was orchestrated magnificently by maestro Jason Kidd, who earned his 105th career triple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists.
Dallas jumped out to a 17-point lead in the first quarter to seize control of the game. Only briefly during the second quarter did the Kings show any sign of being able to compete.
Sacramento (25-55) narrowed the deficit to 41-35 with 8:03 remaining in the first half, but less than five minutes later, the Mavericks had fortified its advantage to 59-41.
The Kings never could prevent the veteran Mavs squad from finding holes in their defense and the result was one open Dallas shot after another. The Mavs shot 73 percent in the first quarter before missing their final four shots. Dallas still shot 12 of 20 (60 percent) in the first quarter.
Kings coach Paul Westphal used to work for the Mavs, so knows the team very well. And when Dallas shoots 53.2 percent from the field, 62 percent from three-point range and 85.3 percent from the free-throw line, it’s usually bad news for the opposition.
"We had a nice crowd out there supporting us (Saturday night) and they got to watch Dirk Nowitzki show what he can do," Westphal said. "He showed why he’s one of the greatest players ever to play this game. It looked like the basket was like three times the size of a normal basket when he shot tonight.
"On top of that, they had their other players shooting the ball extremely well. You want teams to shoot more three-point shots as opposed to getting inside when you are a small team like we are. But when they shoot 62 percent on threes, it’s hard to mount much of a comeback. It seemed like it was a great offensive performance by a veteran team (that) is tuning up for the playoffs."
At the trading deadline, the Mavs added small forward Caron Butler, center Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson and became a deeper and tougher team.
"I like the guys they added," Kings swingman Francisco Garcia said. "They’ve got more depth and they are a better defensive team. They are going to give some teams some problems if they shoot like that."
It will be difficult for the Mavs in the playoffs to find a team that will give them as many uncontested shots as did the Kings on Saturday. However, Nowitzki and Jason Terry are proven playoff performers.
Terry scored 25 points in 27 minutes and said his squad is getting ready for the playoffs.
"Those guys we picked up are defensive minded and you know they are tough," he said. "Plus, they are hungry. They want to win and they play like it."
The positives for the Kings were few. Carl Landry tied his Sacramento season-high with 30. His talent came as no surprise to the Mavs.
"We know him from Houston," Kidd said of the former Rocket. "We tried to get him at the trade deadline."
Guard Tyreke Evans scored 27 points and moved closer to joining Oscar Robertson, LeBron James and Michael Jordan as the only rookies to average 20 points, five rebounds and five assists. The Kings play their final home game Monday against former Kings guard Kevin Martin and the Houston Rockets.