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Kings vs Mavericks Preview: A Wild, Wild Worst Shootout

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After sticking close to the defending champs, the Kings now square up against the only team in the West with a worse record!

Kimani Okearah

The Kings are spending their weekend exploring the polar extremes of the NBA: Friday night’s contest was a scrappy loss at the hands of the best team in the league which, of course, inevitably means that Saturday’s game against the fellow cellar trolls from Dallas should end in disaster for Sacramento. Dallas has the perfect pedigree to ruin your Saturday night experience in Sacramento: A well-past-his-prime star in need of one final supernova performance, a fiery rookie point guard wanting to prove he should have gone higher in the draft, a group of scrappy never-beens clinging to their NBA careers and they’re all tied together by Rick Carlisle, one of the best coaches in the NBA. Oh and in case they needed motivation, they’ve lost eight of nine games and are playing the Kings coming off of their try-hard loss to the Warriors just last night. I’d call it the basketball equivalent of a one-legged ass-kicking contest, but let’s be honest, you’d be motivated to actually watch that on a Saturday night.

Let’s talk Kings basketball.

When: Saturday, January 3rd; 7:00 pm PST

Where: Golden 1 Center; Sacramento, CA

TV: NBCSCA

Radio: KHTK Sports 1140 AM

For Your Consideration

Who Shot (Dennis Smith) JR? Looking back on Sacramento’s previous game against the Dallas Mavericks is a lesson in futility. In what was the Kings first win of the season, George Hill had 21 points, De’Aaron Fox had 10 assists, Willie Cauley-Stein had 11 rebounds and we all suddenly had expectations that should have never been allowed to fly so high. In the fifty games fall since that moment, Kings fans have gone through all five stages of grief and then looped right back around to bargaining just in time for the trade deadline; Skal and Mal and Willie and Vlade and Vivek for Aaron Gordon and a second? Tonight, you can slide back into the conformable embrace of acceptance and enjoy the game for what it is; the Kings fighting for a chance to not draft a franchise changing superstar. Ahhh isn’t that nice?

One of the highlights tonight will be the first match-up between Dennis Smith Jr. and De’Aaron Fox, two stud rookie point guards with speed and hops to spare. Smith missed the previous game in October with a tweaked knee, but has provided highlight reels of dunkage for Dallas all season, and tonight should provide the opportunity for at least a couple more. Smith in many ways has been as impressive as De’Aaron Fox; he’s second on the team in scoring at 14.8 points per game, while also average 4.8 assists and 3.9 rebounds. He’s also averaging those numbers shooting 39.8% from the field, 32.5% from deep and 68.5% from the line, so rookies going to rook. But this is your reason to watch tonight. Not for the draft status, or Dirk’s career fading away like his shot did so many times: It’s two kids, hoping to be superstars, dunking on and crossing each other up all evening. Best highlight of the game, wins.

Prediction: De’Aaron Fox dunks on Dennis Smith Jr. so hard he retires. Kings win.

Kings: 104, Mavericks: 96