Dallas Mavericks

Gameday: Kings can cash in or go for broke in last game before All-Star break

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USATSI

Gameday: Kings can cash in or go for broke in last game before All-Star break

Cash it in or go for broke. With two games remaining before the All-Star break, the Sacramento Kings travel to Dallas to take on the Mavericks at AmericanAirlines Arena. Will they come out swinging or look like a team already one foot out the door on vacation?

The Kings have lost two straight and four of their last five, but they’re beat up and fresh off a roster shakeup. De’Aaron Fox led Sacramento last time out, scoring 23 points against the T-Wolves. He was one of six Kings to score in double-figures, but the Kings couldn’t close out Minny late.

Dallas is 3-11 over their last 14 games, but one of those wins came over the Kings at Golden 1 Center. They are an interesting mix of young and old. Dirk Nowitzki is still roaming the perimeter and Harrison Barnes has developed into a quality scoring option in his second season in Dallas.

BETTING LINE

Mavs by 6.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Justin Jackson vs. Doug McDermott -- Jackson has posted double-digit scoring in four of his last seven games and shot 50 percent from the field or better in all but one of those opportunities.  He’s quietly improved his per game numbers across the board, including rebounding, assists and points. Dougie McBuckets is getting another new lease on life after joining the Mavs at the deadline. He can shoot the rock, but so far in his career, that’s about it.

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 17-38

Mavs: 18-39

INJURY REPORT

Kings: SG/SF Iman Shumpert (plantar fasciitis) out, SF Bruno Caboclo (personal) status unknown at this time, PF Skal Labissiere (shoulder strain) out, PG Frank Mason (plantar fascia tear right heel) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out for the season.

Mavs: G Seth Curry (leg) out for the season, C Nerlens Noel (thumb) out, PF Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

Rookie Point Guard Battle - De’Aaron Fox and Dennis Smith are going to battle for the next decade in the Western Conference. Fox won the last matchup between these two, but Smith’s team came away with the win. Fox is the faster of the two, but Smith touts a 48-inch vertical.  

Stay Focused - The Kings are 9-21 away from Golden 1 Center this season, compared to 8-17 at home. They’ve had shocking wins over the Warriors, Pelicans and Heat on the road this season, showing that they can rise to the occasion. With the All-Star break just two days away, Sacramento needs to remain focused on task at hand.

Get to the Line -- Sacramento continues to rank last in the league in free throw attempts at 17.5 freebies per game. Willie Cauley-Stein ranks first on the team with 3.3 attempts and Fox is second at 2.9, but the team needs more out of players like Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Zach Randolph.

SERIES HISTORY

The Kings and Mavs are all tied up at 1-1 this season, with each team winning on the road. Dallas hold a 93-68 advantage over the Kings all-time, and a 76-55 lead during the Sacramento-era.

Gameday: Warriors big favorites to end slump with Mavs in town

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USATSI

Gameday: Warriors big favorites to end slump with Mavs in town

OAKLAND -- Conditions are favorable for the Warriors to snap out of their slump Thursday night when they face the downtrodden Dallas Mavericks at Oracle Arena.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 6:30, with tipoff scheduled for 7:35.

The Warriors (41-13) have fallen short in three of their last four games, with the losses by an average of 19 points. The defense has been indifferent and the offense sloppy, with turnovers coming in bunches.

The Mavericks (17-37) are tied with the Hawks for the worst record in the NBA. They’ve lost six of their last seven, with the lone victory coming last Saturday at woeful Sacramento.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 14

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Stephen Curry vs. Dennis Smith Jr.: In the wake of the loss to Oklahoma City on Tuesday, Curry sounded like a man rededicating himself to the mission. A fully focused Curry is difficult to contain. Smith is that rare rookie who is needed only a few months to make a bid to become a team leader. The athletic rookie is the Mavs’ No. 2 scorer (14.6 ppg) and embraces the big moment. Expect him to go at Curry.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: F Draymond Green (dental work), G Shaun Livingston (L elbow sorenss) and F/C David West (R calf tension) are listed as probable. F/C Jordan Bell (L ankle inflammation) is listed as out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors.

Mavericks: F Johnathan Motley (L ankle sprain) is listed as questionable. F Harrison Barnes (L ankle sprain), G Seth Curry (L tibia stress reaction), C/F Nerlens Noel (L thumb surgery) and G Dorian Finney-Smith (L knee quadriceps tendinitis) are listed as out.

LAST 10

Warriors: 6-4.

Mavericks: 2-8.

GAME OFFICIALS

Sean Wright (crew chief), Brent Barnaky, Tre Maddox

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors won three previous meetings this season, by a combined 48 points, and swept three meetings last season. They are 13-1 against the Mavericks since Steve Kerr became coach in 2014-15.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE GIFTS: If there is one area in which the Warriors absolutely must improve to regain their mojo, it’s turnovers. They’ve committed 79 over the past four games, leading to 90 points. They committed 46 in three previous games against Dallas, giving the Mavericks 50 points. They’ve acknowledged and addressed the issue but thus far been unable to improve.

THE FIRST QUARTER: The Warriors have made a habit of starting slowly, taking first-quarters leads only seven times in the last 21 games. The intensity level has more often than not insufficient. When they’re on, they come out aggressive and productive. When they’re not on, it shows. It won’t take long to see had eager the Warriors are to snap out of this trend.

THE D: As wobbly as the offense has been at times, the defense has been appreciably worse. The Warriors held opponent under 100 points 12 times in their first 34 games but only once in the last 20. Players are resorting to uttering such lines as “look ourselves in the mirror” and “hold ourselves accountable.” Will that translate to better defense?

Suffering from 'mental fatigue,' young and old Kings have hit a brick wall

Suffering from 'mental fatigue,' young and old Kings have hit a brick wall

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings have hit a wall. Young players, veterans, it doesn’t matter. After a six-game road trip, followed by back-to-back losses at home, the Kings look winded.

“Mental fatigue,” is all head coach Dave Joerger could muster when asked about his team’s struggles.

The Dallas Mavericks used an 18-0 run in the late third quarter and early fourth to put away the Kings Saturday evening at Golden 1 Center. Like the 30-15 run by the Warriors on Friday night, it was a combination of missed shots and poor execution on the defensive end.

You don’t have to look any further than the official play-by-play rundown of the game to spot a trend during the Mavericks run.

Missed jump shot, missed jump shots, missed fadeaway shot, missed fadeaway shot, missed fadeaway shot, missed floater, missed jump shot, missed jump shot.

In the matter of a few minutes, the Kings turned a six-point lead into a 12-point deficit. They missed seven 3-point attempts during the stretch, many of them from well beyond the arc.

Missing from the run was a layup attempt, a dunk or a free throw. Dallas turned up the heat and the Kings settled for long perimeter shots.

“Just a slow start to the fourth,” rookie De’Aaron Fox said following the 106-99 loss. “They started making shots and it’s really hard to come back from something like that.”

After shooting 63.3 percent from the field through three quarter, the Kings appeared to run out of gas. They shot 22.7 percent in the final frame, including a 1-of-10 quarter from behind the arc.

When the shots stopped falling, most teams attack the rim and try to get to the foul line. On the night, Sacramento went to the free throw stripe just six times, which ties the franchise’s low for attempts in a game dating back to January of 1997.

“They’re a lot bigger and stronger than we are,” a clearly frustrated Joerger said in his post game comments. “They manhandled us physically, I thought, around the perimeter cuts and just played with a lot more force.”

The locker room was quiet following the game. Plenty of players had already cleared out by the time the media was let in. Losing isn’t fun. Neither is a brutal stretch in the schedule.

Joerger announced that the team would take Sunday off before returning for shootaround in preparation for the Chicago Bulls on Monday. Following the Bulls game, the Kings won’t play again until Friday, a day after the NBA’s trade deadline.