First Impressions: Mavs' Rare 4-in-5 Sweep
It is not a surprise that there is a separation between a Dallas Mavericks team that is deep and experienced and a Kings team that is young and lost. I visited with a long-time coach at halftime who observed that Sacramento "doesn't even run an offense. None of them know what they are doing.''
So, firing Paul Westphal wasn't exactly the cure-all, eh?
But the extent to which Dallas demolished 4-9 Sacto -- with maybe the Mavs' greatest defensive effort in franchise history -- is jaw-dropping.
"Their shot-making wasn't great,'' Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said, "but I thought we had something to do with that."
The Mavs held the Kings to 23 points in the first half, breaking the franchise record of 24 set on March 13, 1999 against the Grizzlies. That 23 points is just four shy of the NBA record.
The 60 points allowed is also a franchise record, The previous low was 65, recorded against the Timberwolves on Feb. 27, 2007.
In the end, Sacramento shot 25.6 in the game after making just four of 25 shots in the first quarter. Dallas ended that period a 15-1 run, keyed by Jason Terry scoring eight of his 21 points in the run. It was 27-11 after one quarter, maybe causing some sports fans to switch over to Tebowmania (and then, noticing that the Broncos were losing by about the same score in New England, to switch back.)
Sacto's 23 points in that first half is so abysmal that it's lower than the franchise's previous mark of 25, recorded when the Kings were located in Rochester, N.Y. and known as the Royals.
Also back then the ball was barely even round.
Vince Carter (with 16 points) was among the many Mavs who recorded highlight plays against a Kings team reduced to watching in amazement. Ian Mahinmi was a force inside on both ends for Dallas, and Yi Jianlian got burn, to the delight of the AAC crowd. And really, when Dallas ran its second unit onto the floor -- Ian, Vince, Odom, Jet and the electric Roddy B -- well, it was superior to any combination Sacto could've ever assembled, even with gifted kids Tyreke Evans (1-of-8 shooting) and DeMarcus Cousins (4-of-12 for 12 points).
Cousins, whose immaturity is among the reasons Westphal is gone and among the reasons Sacto is so far from being good, couldn't quite handle Mahinmi and friends. But he was able to dominate a cameraman in the postgame locker room. Cousins reportedly got cross with a media schlub, the Kings' lone matchup advantage of the night.
Otherwise, the Dallas bench outscored the Kings bench 68-20 ... and heck, the Dallas bench outscored the entire Kings team 68-60!
Dirk Nowitzki scored 14 but barely broke a sweat. Same with Jason Kidd, who returned from a four-game absence due to a sore back and was frisky enough to make his first 2-point field goal of the season while recording six steals and six assists in 28 minutes. (See? Weirdly amazing! Oh, and he's two steals away from 2,500 for his career - and only 16 from passing Michael Jordan for second place on the NBA's all-time list.)
And really, "energy conservation,'' as Carlisle called it before the game, soon became the real goal here once the fifth straight Dallas win became an inevitability. The UberMan played just 20 minutes, and rotation anchors Terry, Marion, West, Haywood, Mahimni and Odom (who had the best plus/minus on the night for the Mavs at plus-32) all played under 23.
"It's important,'' Carlisle said of his team's depth and bench. "They've been playing a lot and they're going to continue playing a lot. Again, this season with a compressed schedule and the high frequency of games, depth and spirit and all of that kind of stuff is really key. We're on an uptick right now and we've got to keep it going because the schedule is getting tougher this week."
The point of the rest for the reigning NBA champs? At 8-5, they've won six in a row at home after what now looks like an excusable 0-2 start. (Unless you're a Trollinger.) They are getting cranked up for a four-game road trip over six days that begins Monday in LA against the Lakers.
That'll be a different level of competition, yes. But before you laugh off the accomplishment of skunking the Kings (and some of the other have-nots in this winning streak), remember that it was just three weeks ago that Dallas' critics were labeling the Mavs "have-nots,'' too.
There is a difference between so many teams in the NBA and the Mavs, who have now allowed just 84.2 points per game over the last 10 games and are 8-2 in those. And in producing their greatest defensive effort in franchise history on Satuday, the difference was jaw-dropping.
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