Mavs Get 'Gangbusted' By Kings

'It's a harder game,' Rick Carlisle said Monday before taking on a team-in-transit in Sacto. 'These situations take on weird personalities. These so-called depleted teams come out and throw a gangbuster game at you.' Rick said it. I laughed, but at least I listened. Which is apparently more than his Mavs did.

The Dallas Mavericks suffered the embarrassment of a 112-97 loss to the Kings. ... and yes, despite Carlisle's words of caution, the word of the day is "embarrassment.''

Embarrassment in this space because over the course of last week's winning streak, I've allowed myself to be coerced into buying into the "coming together'' meme.

And embarrassment in Northern California because the Kings -- every bit a team with a "weird personality,'' every bit a "depleted team,'' every bit the 5-13 club they were before tipoff ... simply needed to be matched gangbuster-for-gangbuster.

Match Sacto early and the Mavs wouldn't have fallen behind by double-digits just six minutes into the game. But OK. Maybe the Kings were somehow energized by the news of their seven-player trade for Rudy Gay, an upgrade in talent for them (if not an asset in terms of cap management). But that same deal left them without a full complement of bodies to take on the "coming-together'' Mavs and their 13-8 record.

So how did Sacto managed to keep up the early energy with a 21-4 run and a 34-23 lead after a quarter into the second quarter and another 14-2 scoring spree late in the first half to fuel a 57-47 halftime edge?

"If you dig yourself a big hole in the first quarter and get down 16 in the first quarter, even if you make it back to get the lead again, you've used up a lot,'' Carlisle said.

The message may not be getting through to everybody at this moment. DeJuan Blair once again started in place of the s-listed Sam Dalembert, the planned-on starter who even dropped below Bernard James in the Monday rotation. Sarge played well enough, and the Dirk/Monta combo put up numbers, together offering up a 16-of-33 shooting night good for 48.5 percent and 39 points (albeit with a combined six turnovers).

What sort of help did The Big Two get from their aides? The combined line for the rest of the Mavs: 21-of-62 (33.9 percent) for 58 points ... and 10 TOs.

Meanwhile, DeMarcus Cousins -- the centerpiece of everything Sacto does and will do even with Gay in the wings -- recorded a double-double in the first half with 19 points and 10 rebounds and settled on 32 points and 19 rebounds. Derrick Williams contributed a career-high 31 points and Isaiah Thomas totaled 24 points and a career-high 12 assists.
"Once they felt like they couldn't miss and the basket is that wide open,'' Dallas' Shawn Marion said, "ain't no coming back."

Dallas couldn't come back in this game but can rebound Wednesday at Golden State. (I'll be part of the telecast on Fox Sports Southwest starting at 9 p.m.) The "coming together'' of this team in recent days can once again become a theme if somehow Dallas wins at Golden State to go 3-1 on this demanding road trip, which featured wins at New Orleans and Portland. But the Warriors -- victimized in Dallas on Nov. 27 by a 103-99 margin -- are very much a "gangbuster'' team in every positive and dangerous sense of the word.

"We've got to play whistle-to-whistle, we've got to be more solid to start games, and play all 48 hard,'' said Carlisle, who was definitely reviewing the Kings game, might as well have been previewing the Warriors game, and should have all involved listening and not laughing.

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