February 13, 2018, 11:12 pm
Sacramento appeared to be on their way towards a blowout win in Dallas after the first three quarters Tuesday night, but their lead proved to be just enough for them to hang on and win 114-109.
The Kings struggled to get much going on offense in the opening minutes of the game, largely because the team couldn’t find their way to the rim. Sacramento couldn’t move the ball effectively and didn’t get themselves many opportunities in transition.
One thing that kept the team close was their defense. The Mavericks struggled to score for most of the game, but the tone was really set on defense early in the first quarter. Willie Cauley-Stein completely shut down Harrison Barnes at times and was making hustle-plays throughout the game.
The pace picked up a bit when Dave Joerger started to go to the bench and the team got much better looks as a result. Sacramento was able to get good looks in the paint and the pressure put on Dallas’ defense also gave the Kings more open looks from three-point range. The Kings continued to play that way through the second quarter and eventually opened up a 65-44 lead.
Sacramento came out with the same energy in the third quarter, but the team got a bit sloppy after a few minutes. Cauley-Stein picked up two quick fouls to open the half, and the Kings doubled their turnover total in the first six minutes of the third quarter.
Dallas, to their credit, took advantage of the Kings’ mistakes and got themselves back into the game. Sacramento was able to stop the Mavericks from going on a huge run, but the team’s inconsistency kept them from pulling away before the final quarter.
The Kings’ defense was shaky to say the least in the fourth quarter, but the lead ended up being too much for Dallas to come back against.
- The Kings made it clear after the trade deadline that they were ready to start turning over the roster to their young players, and while it may take a few weeks to see exactly how that impacts the team it is already clear that they are ready to play faster. The Kings looked much more dynamic against the Mavericks when they were pushing the pace and attacking the basket, something that was generally true against the Wolves and Blazers as well. The quicker pace has magnified some of the team’s turnover issues, but overall it looks like a much better fit for this roster.
- Sacramento didn’t play quite as well in the second half, but Joerger did a great job of keeping things from getting out of hand. There wasn’t ever much doubt that the Kings would end up with the win, but the Mavericks had more than a few runs slowed by Joerger settling his team down with a timeout.
- Cauley-Stein didn’t have the flashiest stats against Dallas, but his energy on defense was a big part of what allowed the team to build a huge lead early. Defensive consistency has been a weakness for him throughout his career, but Tuesday night’s performance gave fans a glimpse how high his ceiling is on that end.
- The value of Bogdan Bogdanovic’s experience in Europe has been evident all season, but it really showed Tuesday night against the Mavericks. De’Aaron Fox has done well in a fairly large role this season, and Bogdanovic’s ability to run the offense and play off the ball at a high level has made the transition much easier on him.