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After leading by 24 points in the first half, the Kings appeared to be headed for their first win in Dallas since 2003, which would have secured at least a split of their four-game road trip.
However, in a stunning turn of events, the Mavericks rallied to a 106-98 win over Sacramento in front of a sellout crowd at the American Airlines Center.
“A lot of it was turnovers," Kings coach Michael Malone explained. "Twenty-two turnovers on the road lead to 25 fast break points by them.
“Quarters two, three, and four they outscore us 92 to 66. Great first quarter, but this is a 48-minute game.”
In the NBA, runs are to be expected and the challenge is to weather them.
“Teams are going to make runs and we weren’t going to beat them by 24 the whole night," Malone said. "We knew they would make a run, but we didn’t handle the adversity very well tonight.”
Ramon Sessions started at point guard for Darren Collison, who was out due to left shoulder stiffness, and went for 18 points but didn’t record an assist.
One clear difference without Collison is that Sacramento never got closer than seven points in the fourth quarter. The Kings failed to emulate their recent resilience:
– In OKC, trailing by 17 in the third quarter, the Kings bounced back with a 13-0 spurt
– Down by eight with just under 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter in Phoenix, the Kings rallied to tie it at the end of regulation
– Trailing by seven in the first overtime in the desert, the Kings forced a second overtime session and eked out a win
“They're a great team and even better at home," Sessions said of the Mavericks. "We knew they were going to cut the lead sometime in the game and that’s what they did. We could never rally back.
“They got the momentum and the crowd got into it. That’s one of those things; we just couldn’t turn it back around."
Sacramento’s on-ball defense also suffered sans Collison as Monta Ellis, Jameer Nelson and Devin Harris got into the paint too easily and Dallas scored 25 fast-break points.
Rudy Gay led all scorers with 26 points while Dirk Nowitzki paced Dallas with 23, surpassing Hakeem Olajuwon to move into ninth place on the all-time NBA scoring list.
DeMarcus Cousins, who scored 16 points to go along with 11 rebounds, was relegated to the bench after picking up his third foul with 4:55 to go in the second quarter.
Without Cousins to contend with, Dallas went on 17-5 run to cut the deficit to nine points at the half -- 57-48.
While the former Kentucky Wildcat needs to avoid unnecessary fouls, he knows his squad cannot dwell on the loss.
“We definitely have the ability to bounce back from this game," Cousins said. "We just have to get back in the gym and get back to doing what we do. Just bounce back from this game, that’s the good thing about the NBA, you always got another game. Put this loss behind us and get ready for Memphis.”
THE GOOD: The Kings first quarter performance –holding Dallas to 14 points while scoring 32 points including shooting 3-for-5 from downtown and draining 11 free throws.
THE BAD: Sacramento was outscored 92-66 over the final three quarters and committed 21 turnovers.
THE TAKE: The Kings critical lesson from the Dallas debacle: Finish.
You have to absorb runs, maintain poise and play as close to 48 minutes as possible to win in the NBA.