by Michael Martinez
picture credit Ronda Churchill/AP
Wednesday night in Dallas was an important match up for the Sacramento Kings. The team headed into the night on a four gaming losing streak and a 22 game losing streak on the Mavs’ home court. Overall, the Kings put in a tremendous team effort and were able to defeat the Western Conference’s sixth seed, Dallas Mavericks, 104-101.
Rudy Gay was in the starting line up for the Kings who played tough against Dallas in the first quarter. The Kings’ only flaw was five turnovers but they did a great job of rebounding and passing the ball. Rajon Rondo had four of the Kings’ eight assists in the quarter as he headed back to Dallas.
Sacramento struggled with the three ball to start the game, 0-7, but managed to stay in it. Nobody on the Kings scored more than four points and the Mavs got a nice first quarter out of David Lee. After one, the Mavs led Sacramento, 24-19.
The Kings played an even better second quarter. Marco Belinelli came alive with eight points to start the quarter for the Kings, who would go on an 11-4 run. Sacramento moved the ball extremely well throughout the half, but best of all they played great defense. The Kings did not allow the Mavs to get inside and forced Dallas to shoot out on the perimeter, who shot 1-11 from beyond the arc at the half.
At the half, the Kings held a 50-45 and shot well in the half. The team did a better job with the ball, only one turnover in the second quarter. DeMarcus Cousins and Rondo had a team high with eight points apiece with Rondo adding seven assists.
The Kings did much of the same in the third quarter as the second.
The Kings kept the momentum from the second quarter.With 7:38 remaining, Ben McLemore had a fast break jam causing a timeout by Dallas with the Kings up 60-55. Out of the timeout, Sacramento went on another run, 7-2, which finished with a sweet McLemore crossover who nailed a three off the dribble. Dallas was forced to call another timeout. The Mavs did answer back with eight straight points of their own
The third was a very clean half four both teams and Chandler Parson kept finding a way to score for the Mavs. Through three, Sacramento was able to shoot over 50% from the field and hold their lead, 73-69. The quarter was pretty even and both teams had 46 points in the paint. The Kings defense was still very solid, however.
In the fourth, the Kings went on another run, 7-2, to start the quarter off. The run would become an 11-2 run in a little less than four minutes. Belinelli was once again clutch for the Kings as he hit a three to put Sacramento up, 89-76, as Dallas took another time out.
The Mavs were able to make a push and after being down by 14 at one point, were only down by five with a little over a minute left to play. Unfortunately, the Kings could not make a free throw to save their life. At the 35 second mark, Cousins was fouled and missed both free throws. Darren Collison was fouled 12 second later and went one for two at the charity stripe to lead 102-97. Dirk Nowitzki scored very quickly to cut the lead to three.
Belinelli was fouled and missed both free throws. On the second miss, the Kings fought for the rebound and the ball squirted out. Both teams scrambled for the loose ball and Collison came up with it and fouled.
Collison finally put down two free throws for the Kings to go up 104-99 with four ticks remaining. Nowitzki was able to put in a late lay-up for a final score 104-101.
Many Kings player had great games. Cousins finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds. Rondo notched 18 points and tallied 12 assists.
Off the bench, Collison had 14 points and Belinelli added 16. Belinelli appears to be coming out of his season slump and was a huge spark for Sacramento. The Kings shot the ball extremely well shooting at 52.5% although their three pointers were mostly off. Parson finished with 28 points in the game but the Kings defense was able to hold on and they closed out a fourth quarter for the victory.
The Kings are now 25-35 and will head to San Antonio on Saturday. The team faces off against the Spurs, who clinched their 19th consecutive playoff berth in their last game. Tipoff starts at 5 p.m. as the Kings look to redeem a loss to San Antonio from a couple weeks ago.