This was the Mary, Queen of Scots of basketball games. The Mavericks were always in the executioner's role, always with the biggest weapon and the strategically superior position. But damn if they didn't have to hack at the Kings repeatedly to get the job done. "Put the kids to bed, Sally, the Kings are in town!"
Dallas ended up winning 104-102, though it was basically a three-possession game for the entirety of the fourth quarter. The Kings had the deficit at three points a couple times, but couldn't do enough to stop the Jasons Terry and Kidd. Sacramento ended up scoring 37 points in the fourth, a figure not terribly bloated by the foul party at game's end. But Dallas scored 36 of their own, cinching up the win.
Tyreke Evans was unbelievable, finishing with 29 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. He actually threatened the triple-double mark the entire fourth, having hung on nine assists and seven rebounds until the final, superfluous play. That's how awesome Evans's floor game was through three quarters, while he made his biggest late-game contributions in the scoring ledger. 'Reke had 13 points on six FGAs in the fourth, including 10 in the last six minutes.
Of course, that wasn't enough. Terry hit for 12 points in the fourth, and Kidd had a big three-pointer (his fifth of the game) late. Dirk Nowitzki -- the axe, in our opening metaphor -- was kept under wraps, limited to 20 points on 6-15 shooting. Credit Andres Nocioni and Jason Thompson for keeping Dirk out of his comfort zone, for the most part. Nowitzki's used to making tough shots, but the Kings made many of them too tough while also working hard to limit his attempts by bringing a keep double (often Evans off of Kidd, which didn't exactly work in terms of beating the Mavericks as a team).
Thompson's game looks much better in the box score than it did on the court -- he and Spencer Hawes were beat to a lot of defensive rebounds by Drew Gooden, who had an unbelievable nine offensive rebounds in 30 minutes, including six within the first nine minutes of the game. That's some awful defensive rebounding by the Kings bigs; the team did correct the problem, giving up nine in 34 opportunities in the second, third and fourth quarters combined (as opposed to eight in 18 opps in the first). But there's no excuse to let Gooden go hog wild early, not given the Kings size advantage.
Omri Casspi had two baaaad turnovers, but played well overall. Donte Greene got short shrift (fourth man off the bench, less than 12 minutes) for unknown reasons. His defense looked good. There was a bit of finger-pointing on the defensive end after a few blown assignments, and from my seat it doesn't exactly look like Thompson and Spencer Hawes are on the same page at either end.
But in the end, sticking with as good a team as Dallas for 48 minutes on the road is damn impressive. There's no such thing as a moral victory, but there are losses that aren't depressing, and this is one of those. 5-6 has never looked better.