Coming off of a 125-132 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night, the Dallas Mavericks hoped to tighten their defense up a little in the second night of back-to-back against the Sacramento Kings.
Unfortunately for Dallas, a late third-quarter 3-point onslaught from Sacramento catapulted the Kings into the driver's seat and they never looked back en route to a 129-113 victory over Dallas.
The Mavericks matched the Kings' offensive intensity for much of the first half, as Kyrie Irving carried over his strong performance from the Milwaukee game into the first half tonight. Irving finished with 23 points on the night and was explosive getting to the rim all night, but it was not enough to mend the Mavericks' issues defending the perimeter.
Mavericks show glaring weakness that must be addressed in loss to Kings
The Mavericks stood a tall task heading into the game as they had to try and guard Fox-Sabonis pick-and-roll actions ad nauseam all night.
The Mavericks did a decent job of doubling timely on De’Aaron Fox in the first half, but outside of that they didn’t do a good enough job of forcing the ball out of the Kings’ two All-Stars hands at all.
By no means is guarding the quickness and dribble penetration from Fox and Malik Monk an easy task, but Dallas let the Kings get too comfortable in the third quarter and was forced to preemptively rotate on defense because of how much dribble penetration Sacramento was getting.
From there on out Sacramento was either draining open threes off of botched Dallas rotations the rest of the night or getting offensive rebounds to get put-back attempts. Luka Doncic played a relatively good defensive game contrary to some other Mavericks, but he was getting frustrated on offense at the lack of fouls being called and it led to a fairly rough shooting night as Doncic finished with a quiet 25 points on seven of 19 shooting from the field.
Whilst Doncic and Irving commanded double teams all night from Sacramento, other Mavericks just didn’t make enough plays offensively down the stretch once Doncic or Irving broke the double team with an outlet pass.
Derrick Jones Jr. and Grant Williams combined for just 13 points, and their execution when attacking off closeouts and shooting spot-up threes was far off from what we’ve seen when they are hitting at points this season.
Dallas also couldn’t contain Sabonis on the glass or in any of the Kings' offensive actions they ran through him. Dereck Lively II continued to prove his value as he was virtually the only big able to get rebounds tonight, but he still has a long way to go before he can be tasked with efficiently guarding a big like Sabonis all game. The Mavericks didn’t get much of anything from Dwight Powell defensively either, as Sabonis finished with 32 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists.
The Mavericks' point-of-attack defense suffered all night trying to guard Fox and his kick-out passes to Chris Duarte, Monk, and Keegan Murray. However, Josh Green mended some of the damage by coming in and playing pretty good on and off-ball defense for Dallas. Green struggles early on have Mavs fans questioning if he should've been signed to an extension right before the season started, but he finally got his feet under him by draining a few threes and making some solid dishes in the open and half-court.
Dallas can maybe extract some positives from Green’s play as well as how Richaun Holmes played in garbage time, but other than that it was a pretty dull night that was only made worse by former Mavericks JaVale McGee and Harrison Barnes both having solid games as well. McGee and Tim Hardway Jr. also got into it during the first quarter which is worth mentioning as well.
Dallas doesn’t play again until Wednesday against the Lakers, so stay tuned as we’ll have you covered leading up to the game.