Programming note: Kings-Mavericks coverage starts tonight at 5 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Plus with Kings Pregame Live (territorial restrictions apply)
Sacramento (5-2) moves on to Dallas (4-3) for the third game of a four-game road trip Tuesday night after the Kings’ overall five-game winning streak (that included a three-game road winning streak) was snapped Sunday in a 101-93 loss in Oklahoma City.
A Kings win in Dallas would guarantee a split of the road trip and secure Sacramento’s fourth road victory of the season -- a full two weeks before Thanksgiving.
Last season, the Kings accomplished the same feat in the Lone Star State -- in Houston -- but it took them until New Year’s Eve to do so.
The last time Sacramento started a season at 6-2 was 2001-02. A win at the American Airlines Center would provide more validation of the Kings' unexpected early-season success.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: DeMarcus Cousins vs. Tyson Chandler. Chandler -- a member of the First-Team NBA All-Defensive Team a year ago and the 2013 NBA Defensive Player of the Year -- will be a tough test for Cousins, who is receiving strong praise from his coach.
“You can’t deny it: I think (Cousins) is the most talented big man in the NBA and he shows it every single night," Kings coach Michael Malone said after Friday’s double overtime win in Phoenix.
Jason Thompson vs. Dirk Nowitzki. Thompson held Blake Griffin to 17 points in the Kings win at Staples Center. Can he contain Nowitzki in similar fashion?
Ben McLemore vs. Monta Ellis. McLemore’s offensive is coming around, scoring in double digits in the last three games, but he must also bring the D by keeping Ellis out of the paint and preventing a performance similar to Sunday's, when Ellis tallied 23 points and five assists in the Mavericks' loss to the Heat.
KEYS TO VICTORY:
1. Defend: Sacramento faces the fourth-best scoring team in the NBA in the Mavericks, who average 105 points per game.
The Kings must avoid recent defensive lapses, like when they allowed 34 points in the last stanza against the Thunder and 36 points in the first quarter against the Suns. Conversely, the Kings must replicate recent defensive efforts like the third quarter against the Thunder -- allowing 15 points -- and the fourth quarter against the Suns -- allowing a paltry 11 points.
2. Rebound: Sacramento is the best rebounding team in the league with a plus-8.4 rebound margin. But the Kings were outrebounded for the first time this season in Oklahoma City, 40-37.
Controlling the glass will enable the Kings to get out in transition avoiding Dallas’ zone defense.
3. Attack the zone: Sacramento's stone cold 3-point shooting -- last in the league at 27.1 percent -- will undoubtedly invite more zone defense.
In the half-court setting, zone busting keys for the Kings include:
• Ball movement to all four quadrants
• “Old school” ball fakes to test the defense
• High-low, inside-out action
• Spacing and angles -- Initiating from the wing
• Dribble penetration -- Draw two and kick or finish
• And yes...making shots
INJURY UPDATE: Sacramento: Darren Collison (left shoulder stiffness) -- doubtful
Dallas: G Raymond Felton (sprained right ankle sprain) -- probable
SERIES HISTORY: The Kings visit the Mavs for the first of three regular season meetings this year. Dallas took the season series last year 3-1.
Sacramento has lost 18 of the last 20 meeting including the last three consecutive games between the squads and has lost 21 straight in Dallas with the last win coming on Feb. 27, 2003 in overtime by the score of 126-124.
Dallas leads the series in the Sacramento era, 70-48 and the all-time series, 87-62.