Brutalized: Mavericks 126, Kings 108

The Kings offense did well, with 108 points on about 95 possessions. The Mavericks worked to limit penetration, but Tyreke Evans still did most of his damage at the rim, scoring 27 points, earning eight free throws. Carl Landry had quite a bit spotting up from the mid-range, as well as moving to the bucket. He finished with 30, shooting 10-16 from the floor and 10-12 from the line.

But Landry, Evans ... no one could slow down Dirk Nowitzki, who was making a case for first team All NBA, third place on the MVP ballot, Blonde of the Year and whatever other awards he's up for. Just brilliant work -- and not a damn thing anyone on this team (and perhaps the league) can do about it. Dirk scored 39 points on 12-20 from the floor and 13-13 from the line. There's really nothing you can do about it. Nothing.

It's the other seven big-minutes Mavericks shooting 28-53 (53 percent) for 82 points -- yes, 82 points on 53 FGAs and 21 FTAs (or roughly 62 shot attempts total) -- you just cannot allow that to happen. Jason Terry, Caron Butler ... those fellows are good. Jason Kidd is good. Erick Dampier is a good big man. J.J. Barea and Eduardo Najera are decent bench players. DeShawn Stevenson ... well, you get my point. You cannot allow that cast of characters to score 82 points on 62 shot attempts. Even if Dirk is playing his worst game of the season, the Kings would have trouble surviving if that cast of characters scored that efficiently.

But, since we're a happy people, let's find some positives. Omri Casspi had a nice effort off the bench, something that looked and felt like December, with 15 points on 11 FGAs and six rebounds. Omri was extremely active -- he had two steals and a couple more deflections.

Landry, again, was a beast. And Evans, though he struggled a bit to get by Stevenson early and a bit in the fourth, had a monster game. He hadn't been getting many calls in recent games, and he did have three fairly clear fouls which went uncalled in this one, but I'm glad he found opportunities to catch Stevenson in transition a few times, and then abused Kidd, Terry and Barea when Stevenson sat. A few bad passes, a few missed passing opportunities (Francisco Garcia seemed to take issue with one Evans take on a 2-on-1; Evans, of course, made a fairly easy lay-up on the play). Evans's defense, despite two steals and a vicious block on Barea, wasn't too good -- Barea used screens galore to get to the rack. Dirk in particular screened Evans out of numerous plays, which is rough when Evans is being used to guard the ball-dominant point guards while Beno Udrih hides on Stevenson. One of the key "little things" Evans could stand to work on is getting around and through screens. Earlier this season, the team switched incessantly on picks. Thank goodness that's over, but the problem remains: the Sacramento defense falls apart as soon as the opponent sets a screen.

***

The worst thing of the night? Golden State and Washington both lost. The Warriors sit at 24 wins, the Kings and Wizards at 25. If it ends up like that, Golden State will have the third most ping pong balls, and the Kings and Wiz will split the 4/5 probabilities. Detroit lurks at 26 wins, should the Kings beat the Rockets and [Redacted]. Philadelphia is at 27 wins now should the Kings win both.

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