By Charlie O. Mallonee
The road can be a harsh mistress in the National Basketball Association. Road teams — even strong, veteran squads — suffer humiliating upsets as the visitors in NBA arenas every season.
Sacramento experienced a heartbreaking loss on Friday night as the Golden State Warriors went on a late 17-2 run to defeat the Kings 130-125 on their home court. The Sactown team would have no time to pout about the loss as they had to head out on the road for a tough back-to-back set in Dallas and Minnesota.
First meeting with Dallas of the season
The game on Sunday was the first of three games between the Mavs and Kings in 2018-19. The next game will be played March 21 in Sacramento and the final game will take place on March 26 in the DFW Metroplex.
It was the first time the Kings would face the rookie they passed on to draft Marvin Bagley III — Luka Doncic. Early on, draft experts were convinced that Doncic was going to a King because of his European pedigree. They were wrong.
Even now, NBA reporters are criticizing the Kings for not selecting Doncic. The fact that he is averaging 17.8 points per game along with 6.8 rpg and 4.5 apg may have something to do with that criticism. His 13 20-plus point games may also contribute to that chatter.
The Kings had to play shorthanded
Marvin Bagley III was injured in the Warriors game on Friday night. The Kings rookie star suffered a deep bruise on his left knee and is out for an indefinite period of time. The last word on his condition has him being re-evaluated in 10-14 days.
Iman Shumpert injured his hip in that same game on Friday night and his availability versus the Mavericks was considered a game-time decision. The decision was Shumpert would not be available to play in Dallas.
The first half was a draw
As the teams hit the locker rooms at halftime, the Kings held a 61-58 lead over the Mavericks. The half featured seven lead changes and the game was tied six times. The Kings biggest was nine points while the Mavs’ largest lead was seven points.
Dallas won the battle in the paint 30-28. Sacramento outscored the Mavericks 19-9 on Fast Break Points.
The Kings shot 46.9% (23/49) in the half while Dallas hit 22-of-52 (42.3%) of their shots. Each team connected on four 3-point baskets in first 24-minutes.
Buddy Hield paced the Kings scoring with 17 points while De’Aaron Fox added 14 on his own.
The Mavericks scoring attack was led by Luka Doncic who put up 13 points. Dirk Nowitzki added three points. The significance of those points is they came in his first appearance before the fans in Dallas this season.
SAC increases its lead in the third period
The Kings outscored the Mavericks 32-25 in the third quarter. Sacramento shot 13-for-24 (54.2%) from the field in the third while Dallas hit 8-of-22 (36.4%) from the floor. Buddy Hield was the Kings leading scorer with nine points while Luka Doncic led the Mavs with six points.
With 36 minutes in the book, Sacramento held a 93-83 lead over the team from DFW.
The Mavs kept it close in the fourth
Doncic scored nine points and Jalen Brunson added eight as the Mavericks outscored the Kings 30-27 in the final period. De’Aaron Fox scored eight points for the Kings who added 27 to their total in the last quarter.
When the final the buzzer sounded, the Kings had won the game 120-113.
The Sactown backcourt duo combined for 56 points
Kings guards Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox each scored 28 points in the game (season-high for Hield). Hield shot 12-for-23 for the game while going 3-for-9 from long distance. He also grabbed four rebounds and added two assists.
Fox went hit 11-of-19 attempts while going 0-for-3 from behind the 3-point line. He hit 6-for-6 from the free throw line. Fox dished out five assists and made three steals.
Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nemanja Bjelica each posted 15 points for the Kings. “Byelly” made it “double-double” by hauling in 10 rebounds.
Luka Doncic (remember that name) was the Mavericks leading scorer with 28 points. He also had nine assists. Former Warrior Harrison Barnes recorded 15 points.
The “Monster of the Boards” DeAndre Jordan hauled in 23 rebounds (10 on offense) and scored eight points. The 23 rebounds is a season-high for Jordan.
The Kings (16-13) are now tied for sixth place in the Western Conference with Memphis and Portland.
Dallas (15-13) is in sole possession of ninth place in the West.
The Kings will be back in action on Monday night in Minnesota versus a team that just lost four games in a row on the road. The T-Wolves are going to be hungry to get back into the win column so they will be a very dangerous opponent for Sacramento.
The Mavericks will head out on the road and will face the Nuggets in Denver on Tuesday night.