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Mavs 106, Kings 98: Kings implode after big early lead

A 22 point lead in the first quarter turned out to be fool's gold as the rest of the game was reminiscent of a slow, painful death.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Might as well rename the team to the Jekyll and Hydes.

The Sacramento Kings were on the cusp of a statement game, jumping all over the Dallas Mavericks early before succumbing due to a lack of execution and defense. DeMarcus Cousins finished the game with 16 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, but was only limited to 29 minutes due to foul trouble, something that has been bothering him all season long. Rudy Gay led the Kings with 26 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists, but his notoriously weak handle was on full display in his 8 turnovers. Ramon Sessions had his first impact game of the season in Darren Collison's absence, with 18 points, but struggled to run the offense after the first quarter, finishing without a single assist. Ben McLemore was lights out early, hitting four threes in the first half, but went cold in the second, ending with 17 points. The ultimate result was the Kings fell to the Mavericks 106-98.

The game started about as well as you could have hoped as a Kings fan. Behind Gay's 12 points and Ben McLemore's 9, the Kings raced out to an early 24-4 lead and won the quarter 32-14. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there. Dallas' bench came out and began digging into the lead, slowly but surely. The Kings saw their lead whittled down to only 9 points at halftime.

The situation would only get worse in the third quarter. A big Mavericks run would quickly erase whatever lead the Kings had left, feasting on the Kings' 8 turnovers in the quarter. DeMarcus Cousins was largely stymied, unable to get the ball in good scoring position and forcing his offense. Cousins would pick up his fourth foul late in the third and had to take a seat. Meanwhile, the Mavericks defense was able to effectively bottle up Gay and McLemore; McLemore was held scoreless in the third, and Gay's turnover woes became a huge factor in the Kings' implosion. Down the stretch of the fourth, the Kings were able to get Cousins rolling a little bit, but it was too little too late as they could not stop a Mavericks offense that was in rhythm and rolling.

Ultimately, the Kings really missed Collison tonight. Although Sessions played relatively well with his scoring, the Kings looked leaderless as the Mavericks made their push. The offense completely fell apart in the face of the Mavericks' defensive pressure with nobody able to execute offense comfortably. It didn't help that the defense fell apart at the same time; the Mavericks have one of the best offenses in the NBA early this season, and the Kings could not stop anything the Mavericks were running. Give credit to the Mavericks, who are a well-coached team with a plethora of offensive weapons. Dirk Nowitzki was sublime, Monta Ellis was able to repeatedly collapse the defense, Tyson Chandler was a menace on the boards, and the Mavericks bombed away from deep, led by Chandler Parsons' five.

The Kings are now reeling with their first losing streak of the season. The November schedule has been especially rigorous, but at 5-3, the team is in a much better position than was originally predicted. Its time to see what kind of mental fortitude the Kings can muster. The Kings' next contest will be against the Grizzlies on Thursday, which won't be any easier than tonight's game.

For the opponent's perspective, visit Mavs Moneyball