3 thoughts after the Dallas Mavericks pull past the Sacramento Kings late, 107-103

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3 thoughts after the Dallas Mavericks pull past the Sacramento Kings late, 107-103

Dallas gets a massive win on the road

Dallas gets a massive win on the road

The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Sacramento Kings on the road Friday night, 107-103. Kyrie Irving led Dallas in scoring with 30, while backcourt partner Luka Doncic scored 26 and dished out 12 assists. De’Aaron Fox led Sacramento in scoring with 23.

Harrison Barnes and Domantas Sabonis took it to the Mavericks early, scoring with ease against a sleepy Dallas defense. Dallas opted to go under perimeter screens early, resulting in three early three-pointers and forcing Maverick head coach Jason Kidd to use his first timeout down 21-13 at the 6:17 mark. The Mavericks struggled to connect on decent looks in the frame but the Kings did not as Dallas found themselves down by as many as 13. Luka Doncic got to the line and helped whittle down the Sacramento lead some before the third Keon Ellis three of the quarter gave the Kings a double-digit lead again. A late Tim Hardaway three meant the Mavericks trailed 34-26 after one frame.

Offense did not exist for Dallas to start the second, as multiple Mavericks missed open looks from beyond the arc. The Kings were much better, though the strong Dallas defense at the rim helped. P.J. Washington in particular struggled on offense in the first half missing all SIX of his attempts. Even free throws wouldn’t go down for Dallas during the quarter. Doncic finally broke a long string of missed threes by the Mavericks only for Barnes to get it right back the old-fashioned way at the rim with a foul. A Kyrie Irving and-one and Doncic splitting at the free throw line pulled Dallas within eight in the final minute. Dallas trailed 60-51 at the half.

The third opened with a much-needed Washington three, his first make of the game. Defense was the early order for the Mavericks, with tough play in the paint on Sabonis and challenges at the rim by Gafford. But the Kings answered with tough defense of their own; after the Mavericks closed within three, Sacramento clamped down on Dallas at the rim. Kyrie Irving left the game mid-quarter (he would return) and it looked like the Kings might run away with it, but a prayer Maxi Kleber three stemmed the tide. Sacramento closed out Dallas and held their double-digit lead until Luka free throws cut it to single digits. Sacramento took an 82-73 lead into the final period.

The offense came alive for Dallas finally, with the Mavericks (well, Luka) hitting early threes. Kings role players matched shots with the Mavericks, holding the lead. Irving free throws and a pull-up three brought the Mavericks within three and forced a Kings timeout. Dante Exum joined the fray with a clutch corner three. Irving’s free throws gave Dallas their first lead in ages only for Barnes to take it right back with the and-one. Following a Dallas timeout, Irving took the lead back again with a three and a Gafford fast-break dunk gave the Mavericks a cushion. Keegan Murray answered with another three though and the teams proceeded to trade baskets, then misses. Exum finally connected on a three with 28 seconds left to break the 103-103 tie (he’d missed a driving layup and a pair of threes in the previous minutes). The Kings had one chance to tie it, but Barnes missed the look. Doncic went one of two, which was enough to hold on. Dallas walks away with a massive 107-103 win over the Kings.

Defense wins championships

At the 8:59 mark of the fourth quarter, Keon Ellis buried another three to give the Kings a 92-82 lead. Over the ensuing nine minutes of action, the Kings would score a measly 11 points. The Dallas defense turned up the intensity and Sacramento went just cold enough for the Mavericks to work themselves into a position to win. It was a gritty, physical basketball game, one where Dallas may have gotten away with a foul or five down the stretch, but this is what the NBA is now. The Mavericks can be a defensive team and that’s one recipe to getting far in the playoffs.

Kyrie Irving, King of the Fourth

When the Kings broadcast indicated that Kyrie Irving left the game with an injury in the third, I panicked a little (or a lot). Thankfully, he was able to finish the game and not only did he finish, he led Dallas through this extremely physical basketball game. His 14-point explosion in the final frame paired beautifully with the intense Dallas defense. Teams should not want to face Irving or Doncic in the final quarter of a close game.

Dante Exum is the third heat

If you don’t the reference:

With Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving on the floor, Exum can be used as the third guard in clutch time situations. He makes the right reads on offense and plays hellacious defense. Yes, he missed a few shots in he final minutes in the fourth, but he’s willing and able to take them. Exum’s going to be massive in these playoffs, as Mette Robinson wrote about this week. What an outstanding performance.

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