Sacramento played perhaps its most impressive game of the season with a blowout victory at home against the defending Champion Dallas Mavericks. Sacramento controlled the game throughout, and led by as much as 21 points, the largest lead of the season for the Kings. It was a great all-around performance by the Kings, on both ends of the floor. ALSO DRAKE WAS HERE YOU GUYS OMG.
Offensively, the Kings had a very balanced and efficient effort all around. They shot 50.6% from the field, and had 25 assists to 14 turnovers (and only three in the first half). Seven players (including all the starters) scored in double digits for Sacramento, led by Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton with 17 points. The only players who didn't score for Sacramento were Tyler Honeycutt and Hassan Whiteside, who just saw three minutes of garbage time. The Kings also hit 11 three pointers and made all 13 of their Free Throws.
On defense, the Kings did a very good job of forcing the Mavericks to commit turnovers (17) and only Jason Terry (23 points) and Shawn Marion (14 points) had good offensive nights. Dirk Nowitzki was held to just 13 points on 13 shots in 29 minutes of action.
The one area where Dallas really out-performed Sacramento was on the glass, as they had 44 rebounds to 34 for the Kings. It was particularly bothersome in the first half when Dallas had 12 offensive rebounds. DeMarcus Cousins' return should have helped boost the Kings rebounding, but he looked especially tired tonight, and finished with just 4 rebounds. There were a few especially egregious moments where Cousins simply stood and watched as Ian Mahinmi (or someone else) grabbed an offensive board away. According to Coach Smart in his post-game interview, DeMarcus was still feeling the effects of his food poisoning.
One thing DeMarcus did well (as did Chuck Hayes) was in his high post passing. Cousins and Hayes were marvelous with their passing from the high post, and the other Kings did a great job of moving without the ball. Rare were the moments where people were just standing around. Cousins and Hayes combined for 9 assists.
Keith Smart opted to once again alter the starting lineup to deal with a perimeter big like he did against Phoenix. Just like last time, Smart put Donté Greene in for Jason Thompson. I wasn't as big of a fan of this move as I was against Phoenix, because unlike Channing Frye, Dirk Nowitzki is just as comfortable posting someone up as he is shooting jumpers. Dallas went to him early against Greene and he scored 4 early points. But after that, the defense tightened up as the Kings gave Donté some help, doubling and even tripling Dirk at points, making him give up the ball. Dirk helped out as well by missing some open jumpers himself. Later in the game Chuck Hayes also did a very good job on Dirk.
Marcus Thornton and Isaiah Thomas were on fire for Sacramento. Thornton's 17 points came on 6-9 shooting, one of his most efficient performances to date. Isaiah Thomas was blistering from downtown, going 4-6 from beyond the arc, with three of those coming in the third quarter alone. Isaiah scored 14 points and dished 5 assists to just 1 turnover in 24 minutes.
The other guards performed admirably as well. Tyreke was very, very good on the defensive end committing fewer rotational lapses than usual and also hitting the glass. Evans actually led the team (and the game) in rebounds with 9. Francisco Garcia and John Salmons came off the bench and contributing on both ends of the floor. Garcia was amazing with his help defense, with three steals and two blocks, almost all from coming over to help. Cisco also chipped in 10 points on 4-9 shooting. John Salmons continued his good play as the backup point forward, probably because the ball is in his hands a lot more with the second unit. His jumper has also started to be more reliable than we had seen earlier in the season.
There was one moment where it looked as if Dallas was going to make things interesting again at the end of the third quarter. Marcus Thornton got a break away and wanted to make an emphasis with the Kings up 15, so went up for a big dunk, but it hit the back of the rim and Jason Terry came back and hit a three of his own to cut the lead to 12. Sacramento answered back with 4 points of their own though, and extended the lead to 21 in the 4th quarter, with Dallas only cutting the lead down in garbage time as Sacramento simply let them hit a few unforced layups.
This is the type of team effort that we have been wanting to see from the Kings all season, and there was still room for improvement, particularly in the fact that DeMarcus Cousins wasn't 100%. Hopefully the Kings can sustain this play through the rest of the home stand, which continues Sunday when Atlanta comes into town.