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Kings vs. Mavericks Preview: Time to bounce back

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

This road trip hasn't gotten off to a great start for Sacramento with a near loss to Phoenix and an actual one in Oklahoma City.  These following games against Dallas and Memphis provide even tougher challenges and Sacramento will have to play much better than they have been if they hope to continue to surprise the league.  Tonight's action tips off at 5:30 pm this afternoon on Comcast SportsNet California and on KHTK 1140.

3 THINGS TO LOOK FOR

1.  The Thunder had a lot of success playing zone defense and denying the ball to DeMarcus Cousins down low.  While most teams don't find much success playing zone, the Mavericks are actually one of the few teams that have been known to run the zone.  I expect we'll see it again today until the Kings prove they can beat it.

2.  Dallas currently has the best offense in the NBA and Dirk Nowitzki is still chugging along at age 36 averaging over 20 points a game on 52.3% from the field and 46.9% from three.  They've still got Monta Ellis filling it up at an efficient rate, and this summer they added the likes of Chandler Parsons and Jameer Nelson.  This is a team that can score in a variety of ways and they have one of the more creative coaches in the league in Rick Carlisle.  Sacramento's defense has been better this season but they'll have to bring their A-game to combat Dallas' multitude of weapons.

3.  Ramon Sessions continues to play ahead of Ray McCallum in the rotation despite playing incredibly poorly.  The Mavericks have three very good scoring guards in Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris and J.J. Barea, and if Sessions continues to play poorly, I'd like to see him get the early hook for Ray.  Veterans usually get playing time over young players because of consistency and production, but Sessions is currently providing neither.

MATCHUP OF THE GAME

DeMarcus Cousins vs. Tyson Chandler

There aren't that many guys who consistently give DeMarcus Cousins trouble, but Tyson Chandler is one of them.  The former defensive player of the year has the right mixture of size and strength to deal with Cousins down low, and he's given him fits in the past.  Chandler is so effective defensively in part because he doesn't foul much at all.  He also doesn't block as many shots as you'd think but rather settles for altering them instead.  On the other end of the floor, he's able to punish you in the Pick and Roll and Cousins will have to keep that in mind when switching on defense.  DeMarcus will have his work cut out for him today, but if he can get going against Chandler, the Mavericks are in trouble.

PREGAME LIMERICK

In Oklahoma we snapped our win streak,
the rest of the month is pretty bleak.
Time to bounce back,
and give the Mavs a good thwack,
so we get back some of our mystique.

PREDICTION

Kings 109, Mavericks 104 as the Pizza Guy delivers a larger combination of defense and threes.