The Sacramento Kings were victorious for the second time in as many nights, defeating the Dallas Mavericks 95-94 at home on Wednesday at Golden 1 Center. Chimezie Metu hit the game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Kings the victory.
De'Aaron Fox had a team-high 16 points and was one of six players to score in double figures as Sacramento improved to 15-21.
Dallas fell to 16-18 after its third loss in its last four games. Jalen Brunson had 25 points and Kristaps Porzingis added 24 to lead the Mavericks.
The Mavericks were playing without star point guard Luka Doncic, who is one of seven players on the team in the NBA's health and safety protocols.
G De'Aaron Fox, SAC: 16 points
G Tyrese Haliburton, SAC: 12 points, 10 assists
G Jalen Brunson, DAL: 25 points
F Kristaps Porzingis, DAL: 24 points
Kings Win Despite Losing Focus in Second Half
Sacramento had Dallas on the ropes for most of Wednesday's contest. The Kings used aggressive defense and efficient offense to put pressure on a short-handed Mavericks team.
After falling behind by 10 points in the second quarter, Sacramento used a 30-8 run to take a 12-point lead into halftime. It was a balanced effort by the Kings led by rookie Davion Mitchell, who scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half.
Sacramento eventually built a 13-point lead in the second half, but defensive lapses and a lack of execution on offense allowed Dallas to claw its way back into the game. The Kings turned the ball over six times in the third quarter alone and finished with 14 giveaways in the game.
Sacramento didn't go down easily as Fox and Tyrese Haliburton made some key plays to keep the game close. Fox also had the assist on Metu's game-winner.
Tyrese Haliburton throws the lob to Richaun Holmes on <a href="https://twitter.com/NBATV?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NBATV</a>!<a href="https://twitter.com/dallasmavs?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@dallasmavs</a>: 81<a href="https://twitter.com/SacramentoKings?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SacramentoKings</a>: 79<br><br>4th Quarter 6:53 remaining <a href="https://t.co/tvRBGj2ckA">pic.twitter.com/tvRBGj2ckA</a>
Wednesday's result is something the Kings should be able to build on going forward. Sacramento has dealt with a lot of turmoil this season with the firing of its head coach and disgruntled players. But a gritty victory like this should galvanize the team and provide some confidence going forward.
Mavericks Struggling to Win Without Doncic
Even without Doncic, it was a surprise that Dallas struggled to put away a middling Sacramento team. The Mavericks fell behind by as many as 13 points in the third quarter.
Brunson and Porzingis eventually woke up and powered Dallas' comeback. Brunson had 11 points in the third quarter and Porzingis had 13 in the fourth.
But the rest of the Mavericks struggled throughout the night. Dorian Finney-Smith was the only other player to score in double figures at 11 points. Dallas got to the free-throw line just 13 times, making nine of them.
The Mavericks are now 4-5 in this recent stretch without Doncic. Porzingis was expected to step up in his absence. While he has been mostly solid as the team's primary option, he shot an inefficient 8-of-19 on Wednesday ,and that's not going to cut it.
Wednesday's result will leave a bad taste in Dallas' mouth. The Mavericks have to hope to return to full health sooner than later to stay alive in a competitive Western Conference.
The Kings and Mavericks will face each other again in Sacramento on Friday.