DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks needed a 10-0 run late in the fourth quarter to avoid total disaster and escape Saturday night with a 103-100 win over the Sacramento Kings.
Dallas could not celebrate, or in this case, exhale until Kings forward Travis Outlaw’s desperation 3-point attempt from the right wing bounced harmlessly off the backboard as time expired.
Starting the night in ninth place and desperately needing a victory over the struggling Kings, Dallas blew a 17-point lead late in the second quarter and found itself trailing 89-84 with 4:05 to go. But that’s when the momentum completely shifted again as the Mavericks capitalized on the Kings’ incompetent execution down the stretch.
“We should take care of these games early,” Mavs guard Jose Calderon said. “I think we did a really good job in the first half. They got into their rhythm, kind of slow-motion rhythm. We get into that, it’s hard to make plays, so we couldn’t stop them, we couldn’t make the right play on offense. We’ll take it. It’s a win and we’ll be better on Tuesday.”
That is when Dallas concludes its eight-game homestand against the Golden State Warriors.
Sacramento committed three of its 20 turnovers between the three-minute mark and 1:20 in the fourth quarter. That is when the Mavs seized control with two free throws by forward Shawn Marion followed by Marion draining a corner 3-pointer. Forward Dirk Nowitzki made four straight free throws and center Sam Dalembert threw down an alley-oop dunk as Dallas’ run soared to 14-2.
“We’re struggling in some areas,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said in regard to another blown lead. “With eight games left, what I would tell you, we’re 74 games into this, there’s been so much of this that, unfortunately, it’s been part of our DNA and I just feel like we’re going to snap out of it — and I know that we have to. I’m a very positive thinker on this and we’re going to do better on this.”
The Kings trailed 52-35 with 1:43 to go in the first half. They managed to get it to 54-42 at halftime and surely talked about the fact that Dallas this season had blown six leads of 16 points or more.
“The reason we lost tonight comes down to two areas: turnovers on the road — we can’t turn the ball over 20 times for 25 points and give them all of those extra possessions — and the free throw line,” Kings coach Michael Malone said. “They go to the foul line 35 times and we only go 19; 29 fouls called against us, 18 against them.
“But we have to find a way to defend without fouling and we have to find a way, especially on the road, not to beat ourselves with turnovers. But we gave ourselves a chance and I love the effort and competitive spirit we played with in that second half.”
Slowly Sacramento, which shot 73.3 percent from the field in the third quarter, crept all the way back. The Kings tied it at 77 with nine minutes to go in the game. It was the first tie since 2-2. They took their first lead, 81-80, when forward Rudy Gay, who led all players with 30 points on 11-of-19 shooting from the field, put back his own miss.
Sacramento extended the lead to 87-82 and had a chance to go up by eight, but rookie guard Ray McCallum, who had a big night with 16 points while playing every second of the 48 minutes, missed the 3-point shot.
Calderon, who was having an awful shooting night, then buried a 3-pointer and the tide turned from there, with Dallas converting off the Kings’ mistakes in crunch time.
“As a group, to hold that team, with the offensive firepower they have, to 40 percent (shooting) in the second half is tremendous,” Malone said. “What is a challenge for us? To do it for 48 (minutes).”
Dallas had six players in double-figures scoring and 28 assists on 34 made baskets. The Mavs were led by forward Dirk Nowitzki’s 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Monta Ellis had 17 points and Shawn Marion added 14. Center Sam Dalembert, inconsistent all season with his performances, played a huge role with 15 points, six rebounds and three blocks.
“He’s been doing a lot of really good things,” Carlisle said. “Maybe it took a while for him to get things, I’m not really sure. But teammates have been behind him for most of the year in a big way.
“We ran the first play (of the game) for him (and) he knocked in the shot. That gets him going, too. I think he really realized how important he is to our whole thing.”
The Kings received 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists from center DeMarcus Cousins, who was got into foul trouble in the third quarter. Evans had six points and 18 rebounds. Forward Jason Thompson scored 11 points off the bench and rookie Ben McLemore added 10 points.
NOTES: Kings G Isaiah Thomas missed his third consecutive game with a right quad contusion. Rookie G Ray McCallum made his third start in Thomas’ place. … Kings F Derrick Williams was active after missing Friday’s game at Oklahoma City with an illness. … Dallas played the seventh game of its franchise-long eight-game win streak. It entered having beaten Sacramento the last 19 times the teams have played at the American Airlines Center. It is their longest ever home winning streak against one opponent. … Mavs G Vince Carter, who has made more 3-pointers off the bench this season than any player, entered the game needing 10 3-pointers to become the seventh player in NBA history with at least 1,800 3-pointers. … Mavs F Shawn Marion entered the game needing two steals to pass Magic Johnson (1,724) for 17th place on the NBA’s career list. … Kings F Rudy Gay holds a player option at $19.3 million for next season. He can opt out this summer and become a free agent. Since joining the Kings in a Dec. 9 trade, he entered Saturday averaging 20.0 ppg on 48.4 percent shooting from the field.
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