Dallas Mavericks 126 at Sacramento Kings 108 (04/10/10)
Just 24 hours after claiming the Southwest Division title for the third time in franchise history, the Dallas Mavericks galloped into Arco Arena for a joust with the Sacramento Kings. Coming off of a much-needed 83-77 win in Portland, where the Mavericks avoided a season sweep by the Trail Blazers, the squad from Big D tried to complete the last back-to-back of the season by concluding a 4-0 season series against the Kings. Dallas also sought its third consecutive win overall, while looking to take the second contest of a three-game West Coast road trip. A 126-108 blowout win accomplished all of the above.
"Different kind of game, different kind of team," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said when comparing the last two matchups. "It is the same kind of formula for success -- tough, hard-nosed defense, rebounding and being efficient on offense. It is a solid win for us. We need them all."
Having two superstars doesn't hurt, coach. Nowitzki followed up a 40-point night in Portland with 39 more, coupling with Kidd's 105th career triple-double to power the Mavericks to the rout.
"(The Mavericks are) a team that's playing their best basketball at the most important time of the year," Kings coach Paul Westphal said after watching the Dallas up close and personal. "They steamrolled us tonight, after they got Portland last night. We did hold Dirk to 39 -- he had 40 last night.
"It's beautiful to watch (Kidd) play. He fills up the stat sheet but he doesn't play for stats. He just plays for making the right play every time, and he gets them in the right situations... It's going to be an interesting playoff run. I think the Mavericks are poised to really do some damage."
And they certainly did a great amount of damage Saturday night.
Playing their third straight game without forward Shawn Marion (left oblique strain), the Mavs once again looked for someone to step forward to make up for No. 0's output. In the opening quarter, that someone was Kidd. After a 1-for-8 shooting night against the Blazers, Kidd aggressively looked for his own shot early.
"(Kidd) came out with such great urgency to begin the game. He came out and 'bang, bang,' hit two jump shots to start the game, and that set the tone for us," Carlisle said.
Meanwhile, Nowitzki picked up right where he left off against Portland. On the defensive end, inserted starter DeShawn Stevenson did his best to keep rookie sensation Tyreke Evans out of the lane. But it was an Eduardo Najera 3-pointer that gave the Mavs a double-digit advantage. The Dallas lead reached as much as 17 in the quarter, eventually going in front 35-24 at the end of one.
The Mavs connected on 12 of 20 shots in the quarter, compared to the Kings' 9-for-19 from the floor.
"I think we set the tone early on," Nowitzki said. "Kidd was pushing the ball for us. We were getting some stops and got an early lead. We carried it on through there."
Sacramento climbed back into the game with long-range shooting early in the second quarter. To the Mavs' misfortune, big man Brendan Haywood headed to the locker room after turning his right ankle. But the 7-footer returned to the bench in time to watch his team extend the lead with an active defense and timely scoring from Nowitzki. A 12-2 Dallas run and Caron Butler's assertiveness put the Mavs ahead by 18, before the Kings closed to within 65-53 entering the halftime intermission.
Behind Nowitzki's 15 first-half points, the Mavs out-shot the Kings 55 percent to 50 percent at the midway point. Carl Landry led Sacramento with his 14-point half. The Kings' 22-14 rebounding edge kept the home team in the game.
Coming out of the break, the Mavericks tried to make quick work off the Kings in the third quarter. Nowitzki did his best to make that happen, scoring on an array of shots early in the period to build up a 21-point lead. But a 10-1 Kings run keep Sacramento's heartbeat ticking.
"They made a couple runs and a few pushes at us, but we made some timely shots when we needed them and got some stops," Nowitzki explained.
Kidd quieted the comeback attempt, ending a stretch of seven straight Dallas misses with a three, before Jason Terry followed that up with a bomb of his own from behind the arch. That's when Nowitzki once again took over, scoring 13 straight Dallas points to end the quarter and lifting the Mavs to a 100-79 lead entering the final stanza.
"I was just being aggressive," Nowitzki said of the sequence. "If I'm open, shoot the ball or put it on the floor and get to the foul line. That always helps."
With Nowitzki resting on the bench, the story turned to Kidd in the fourth. The pass-first floor general not only pulled down his 10th rebound of the night at the 11:03-mark to collect his second triple-double of the season, he also found Terry in the corner for his 13th assist. The 10-time All-Star and his 11 points then headed to the bench for the night just a minute later, after being assessed a technical for kicking the ball.
"Kidd had a triple-double, which was phenomenal, in 31 minutes," Carlisle said.
Terry then took over the scoring, matching Omri Casspi basket for basket after the Kings cut into a 25-point deficit. Before exiting the game as well, Nowitzki added a couple more points at the foul line. With the game well in hand, the Dallas reserves finished off the Mavs' NBA-best tying 26th road win in the 80th game of the season.
Dallas finished the game out-shooting Sacramento 53 percent to 47 percent. The Mavs also connected on 13-of-21 from deep, overcoming the Kings' 41-36 rebounding advantage and 48-32 edge in points in the paint.
Nowitzki fell just short of the 40-point plateau, though he did nail 12 of 20 shots, 13-for-13 at the foul line and 2-of-2 from three-point range.
"If he's open, there is a good chance he is going to make the shot. He is that kind of a scorer and that kind of big shooter," Carlisle said.
Off the bench, Terry added 25 points on 8-for-14 from the floor. In addition to Kidd's output, Butler (15) and J.J. Barea (10) made it five Maverick scorers in double figures.
"We have a lot of guys that can score...If our guys are shooting the ball the way we were tonight, it makes everything a lot easier. It was definitely a good game," Nowitzki said.
Landry finished with a team-high 30 points, while Evans added 27.
Now, after the win and Denver's loss to San Antonio, the Mavericks have a full game lead in the race for the Western Conference's No. 2 seed in the playoff tree.
"It was definitely a good outing for us. Now we are going to try and get the second seed if we can," Nowitzki concluded.
"Each game has critical meaning in terms of the seeding. Our guys are focused in on what we need to do," Carlisle added.
The Mavericks conclude their road trip against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center on Monday night. Dallas can also sweep that season series, after winning the first two games against the Clippers. That game will air locally on KTXA and KTXA HD and nationally on NBA TV at 9:30 p.m. CT.
The team returns to the American Airlines Center for the final regular season game against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS.