Dallas is currently 36-15 and in 2nd place in the West, 6.5 games behind San Antonio and a half a game ahead of the Lakers. They are 20-8 at home and 16-7 on the road and have won 9 of their last 10 games. They are 20-8 against .500+ teams which is 2nd in the NBA to the Spurs who are 20-7.
The Mav’s lost forward Caron Butler to a right knee injury with 2:47 left in the first quarter of a game against Milwaukee on January 1st. They preceded to loss 7 road games in a row before beating New Jersey. And, they lost 2 of their next 4 home games before righting the ship on the 25th against the Clippers. Including the Clippers victory the Mav’s have won 9 in a row; 5 at home and 4 on the road.
In an effort to replace Butlers scoring, the Mav’s signed Peja Stojakovic on Jan. 24th. Stojakovic had last played on November 26th for the Toronto Raptors before sitting out with a swollen left knee. The veteran sharpshooter has been working out in Dallas since joining the team, and played in his first game with the Mav’s this Monday against Cleveland. He scored 8pts / 5 rebs on 3-9 shooting and 1-6 from 3pt range, in just under 20 minutes as the starting SF.
The other starters were Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd and DeShawn Stevenson. The Mav’s have quite a bench, with Jose Barea, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, and a couple of good size centers in 7-0 Brendon Haywood and 6-11 Ian Mahinmi a 3rd year pro who played for the Spurs last season.
The Kings are scheduled to play the Dallas Mavericks 3 times this season. They played the first game back on December 4th right here in Sacramento, and the final two games will be tomorrow in Sacramento and a week from tomorrow down in Dallas.
In our previous meeting, both teams had 11 turnovers, 6 offensive rebounds, and almost identical steals, assists and defensive rebounds. But the Kings committed 27 fouls to Dallas’ 20, and Dallas went to the FT line 29 times to the Kings 16. The Kings ended up outscoring the Mav’s by 10 pts from the field but Dallas scored 12 more points from the charity stripe to win by 2 (105-103).
The Kings were an unbelievable 11-19 (57.9%) from Three, including 8-15 by their starters; Donte 3-6, Tyreke 3-5, Beno 2-4. Tyreke was the leading scorer with 25pts / 8 assists / 5 rebounds on 11-20 shooting. Greene was 2nd in points with 19 pts on 8-15 shooting, and Cousins was 3rd with 17 pts /11 rebs on 6-14 shooting.
Nowitzki was the leading scorer for Dallas with 25pts / 5 asts / 5 rebs on 11-15 shooting. Jason Terry was 7-14 for 23pts off the bench. Carron Butler with 13pts / 5 rebs and Tyson Chandler with 10 pts / 7 rebs, were the only others to score in double figures.
The Kings led 99-90 with 5:22 left in the game, but missed 8 of their last 10 shots, and turned the ball over twice and had one shot blocked. They ended up being outscored 15-4 in the last 5 minutes and ended up losing by 2pts. For those that might remember my rant after this game, this was the game were Donte had 19 pts in the 1st half, but got pulled in favor of Casspi and Garcia at 4 minutes into the 3rd quarter and never played again.
As you might expect Dirk is the Mav’s leading scorer with 23 ppg and is 2nd in rebounding averaging 6.8 per game. Terry is 2nd in scoring with 15.8 ppg, followed by Butler who had been averaging 15 ppg before his season ending injury. Marion is currently the 3rd leading scorer with 11.4 pts / 6.6 rebs, while Chandler is the leading rebounder with 9.6 per game and is the only other player in double digit scoring with 10.3 ppg. Stevenson rounds out the scoring for the starters with an unimpressive 6.8 ppg.
The high volume 3pt shooters for the Mav’s are Kidd who’s shooting 34.3% on 251 attempts, Terry shooting 32.7% on 211 attempts and Stevenson shooting 41.3% on 196 attempts. But you can’t ignore Nowitzki or Barea, Dirk is shooting 41.9% on 105 attempts and Jose is shooting 31.9% on 110 attempts. So, while the Mav’s aren’t the top 3pt shooting team, they are 7th in attempts at 21 per game and 10th in 3P% at 36.6%.
What may be the Achilles heal for Dallas is their scoring at the rim. They take the fewest number of shots at the rim and make the fewest number of baskets in the NBA. And, they are in the bottom 10 in shots inside 10 ft, which should give the Kings an advantage in the paint. Those stats may be somewhat deceiving since Dallas plays at one of the slowest pace (91.9) in the NBA; one of only 5 teams to average less than 92 possessions per game.
Both teams will be missing one of their better shooters (Garcia, Butler) this time around, and both teams will have different players starting at the SF position (Peja, Omri). Beno fouled out trying to defend Terry and Barea, so let’s hope that doesn’t happen again. PW probably has a little more confidence in Pooh then he did last December. When he brought in Pooh and Head to defend Utah’s small guard lineup it worked pretty well. As in the past, it’s the shooting of Terry that will give the Kings their biggest nightmare, along with Marion who’s always a threat to put up a double double, and was the leading rebounder in our last game.
In spite of all of our improvements since our last meeting, the ability to close out games remains our biggest problem. And, I’m sure that the opposing teams are made well aware of that fact, which gives them the confidence that they can come back late in games. Yes, eventually the Kings will improve and be able to compete down the stretch, but for now, maybe its best if the Kings get out to a 20+ point lead early in the 4th. Go Go Kings.