I miss the days when wins were good and losses were bad. Those were simpler times. Now we are in the grayest of purgatories where a win technically keeps play-in hopes alive, but also reduces the Kings' odds for the lottery. So while a win always feels good, we are now in a position where it also comes with a sour aftertaste. Yeah, the food in purgatory blows. Today's meal was a late lunch against an injury-riddled Dallas Mavericks team. Options on the menu ranged from a satisfying sandwich to yogurt pie. Let's see what the Kings chose:
Outcome: Kings lose, 114-113
Sacramento Kings: 113 pts, 48.9% fg, 36.0% 3 pt, 66.7% ft, 24 ast, 45 reb, 16 to
Dallas Mavericks: 114 pts, 47.6% fg, 38.9% 3 pt, 74.1% ft, 22 ast, 39 reb, 10 to
Yogurt pie it is. And it's a sour one. Despite a 19-point lead and De'Aaron Fox tying his career-high in scoring with 44 points, the Kings were once again out-executed in final possessions and head home with another L.
The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
- Early One-Two Punch: The Kings came out strong to start and maintained a high level of aggression and intensity through the entire first half. They were first led by Domantas Sabonis, who big boy bullied the hell out of Dwight Powell every chance he could. Sabonis finished the first half with 11 points on a perfect 5-5 from the field. Whenever Sabonis would head to the bench to get his rest and Powell sighed a breath of relief, De'Aaron Fox immediately stepped in to deliver the second gut punch to the Mavs' defense. Fox finished the first half with 23 points on 2-2 from the 3-point line. The aggressive and dominant play from the Fox & the Ox gave the Kings a comfortable 14-point cushion going into the half.
- Paint Play: The Kings bested the Mavericks by outscoring them 66-44 in the paint. This came mostly in the first half as Domantas Sabonis and De'Aaron Fox were trading spotlights. While Sabonis outworked Dwight Powell inside for buckets, Fox spent the first 24 minutes getting into the paint at will, carving up Dallas' defense with ease.
- Double Trouble: The Mavericks paid a lot of attention to Domantas Sabonis tonight, often sending double teams to cover him when he got the ball in the post. Sabonis never looked very disoriented by this, and often looked ready to make a play knowing he was drawing the defense to him. However, the other four Kings on the floor failed to space the floor appropriately and make hard cuts to give Sabonis options out of the double team. These plays often resulted in Sabonis throwing the ball back out to the top of the floor and resetting the offense. The Kings weren't able to read and react to the double coverage and therefore missed out on some easy opportunities to score.
- That Third Quarter: Why does the third quarter have to even exist? After having such a strong first half, the Kings once again suffered in the third as they let the Mavs outscore them 34-27. Although they still maintained the lead throughout and came out of it with a seven-point advantage, the entirety of the third quarter felt like a slow burn as the Mavs gradually pushed the momentum towards their favor. The Kings didn't match the same defensive energy they displayed in the first half and the Mavs took advantage as they secured five offensive boards for extra scoring opportunities. It was this slow burn that ultimately led to the Mavs' explosive start in the fourth that gave them the lead.
- Losing the Lead & the Game: The Kings led by as much as 19 points. Then they lost by 1 point. This story has unfolded so many times before us that it's not shocking anymore. But it is, unfortunately, still an ugly way to lose a basketball game. Led by Spencer Dinwiddie's 36 points and Dorian Finney-Smith's five made 3-pointers, his last being the final nail in the coffin, the Mavericks just kept chipping away at the Kings until they had them right where they wanted them: tied in final possessions. At this point, the Mavericks buckled down and executed winning plays when they needed to, while the Kings did not. The Kings made some great defensive stops to put them in positions to convert and win on the other end, but instead fell back into one on one offense, a missed free throw, and a poorly executed sideline play for the final shot.
The King of Kings
I wanted this win for De'Aaron Fox. Tying his career-high of 44 points, Fox also had six assists and hit 3-4 from deep. It was one of those games where you could tell Fox was just feelin' it and it didn't matter what the Mavs' defense tried to throw at him. He looked dominant, in control, and confident in a way that let everyone know he was the best player on the court.
Operation: M.C.N.A.I.R. Watch
Today's chosen charity is WEAVE, which promotes healthy relationships and supports survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and sex trafficking. Donate here and be sure to notify Will via Twitter (@WillofThaPeople) or e-mail ([email protected]) so he can continue to keep track of donation totals.
Monday, March 7th vs. New York Knicks - 7:30 P.M. (PT)