Tyreke Returns, But Kings Can't Catch Mavericks

The Mavericks are really, really good. The Sacramento offense, so fluid this season, was far from sharp Saturday night, and credit Dallas for much of that. The Kings turned the ball over 18 times, and I'd guess a substantial majority were forced by the quick, smart Dallas defense. The Mavericks also remembered the lessons of these teams' first match-up, in which Tyreke Evans went hog wild in the paint, and mitigated the star Kings guard by packing the paint. Only Omri Casspi made the Mavs pay for that strategy: he went 4-6 from three, while the rest of the team combined to shoot 2-12.

The Kings offense frequently looked off-balance when it worked to get perimeter jumpers, and sloppy when it went inside. Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes each had three turnovers ... and Dirk Nowitzki and Drew Gooden each had two steals. Evans missed a score of inside shots (4-6 at the rim, but 1-6 from 5-10 feet) but otherwise played a clean game (six assists, no turnovers). Omri really looked like the Kings' best weapon most of the game, and the stats agreed: 22 points on 62 percent True Shooting from Casspi, with 11 rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block. He was brilliant, and he is brilliant. Hurray for Omri.

It should probably be discussed at some point soon whether Casspi is the long-term answer at small forward for a Evans-Martin and Thompson-Hawes team. He rebounds well defensively, is at least spirited on defense, and shoots like a star. There's no one in better position on the current roster, for sure, and by the time Casspi gains some substantial NBA experience he might end up as the best fit. I cannot wait to see Casspi and Martin play together for long stretches.

Grant Napear, if I may, is not helping the Kings by bitching about every questionable call, and continuing to bitch about Rodney Mott's bad call on Thompson in the Lakers game. I have no doubt that many fans, including some here, are ready to set fire to league offices on their volition. But for the less sophisticated soundbite fans out there, Napear's continual tirades are like candy to a cavity. It helps no one. No one. Get over it.

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