When the Sacramento Kings lost a heartbreaker to the Golden State Warriors on Nov. 24, they let it carry over, losing to the Utah Jazz at home the next night by 21 points. Four days later, they fell to the Los Angeles Clippers to push their losing streak to three games.
In a season about learning and growing, the Kings appear to have gleaned something from that experience.
After another tough loss to the Warriors, where Sacramento led by 10 late, the Kings flew to Dallas to face a Mavs team with a 13-2 record at home.
“It kind of hurt at the moment, but it’s the NBA, 82 games,” Kings point guard De'Aaron Fox said following the game. “There are some games we probably should have lost, and that was one we let get away from us, but we’re on to the next one.”
On to the next one is one of the mantras for this Kings team. They’ve had only one three-game losing streak all season. Coach Dave Joerger has his team focused on short intervals in the schedule. They don’t overlook a single contest, and they are setting new team goals for every five-game block.
In order to reach their current goal, the Kings had to shake off the loss to Golden State and move forward. That’s often easier said than done.
“We were worried about having a hangover in a tough loss at home against the Warriors,” Joerger told reporters. “But we’re learning, we’re showing growth and the way we played tonight was positive.”
Fox carried the Kings early against the Mavs, but there was very little separation by either team in the first half. They switched things around during the intermission and came out with a renewed intensity in the third quarter.
Sacramento outscored Dallas by seven in the third frame to take a 10-point lead into the fourth, but the Mavs didn’t go away.
At the 1:46 mark of the fourth, a Wes Matthews 3-ball pulled the home team within five at 112-107. Fox knocked down a 5-footer in the lane to push the lead back to seven, and a Luka Doncic turnover helped Sacramento put the game out of reach.
“We kind of had a similar lead at a similar time, and we try not to make those same mistakes we made against Golden State,” Fox said.
It wasn’t a cake walk, but the Kings picked up the 120-113 victory to improve to 16-13. Last season at this time, Sacramento sat at 9-20 and was headed nowhere fast.
“We have a lot of respect for Dallas -- they were rested and they’re playing very well,” Joerger said. “They’re a good team, well-coached. To get a win is big for us, especially for what their home record has been.”
Like Sacramento, Dallas is having a resurgent season. Led by Doncic, the Mavs came into the night with a record of 15-12 and were well-rested. With the win, the Kings jumped over Dallas in the standings and now are tied with the Memphis Grizzlies for sixth in the Western Conference.
Every game is a new opportunity to learn something. The Kings haven't figured out a way to take down the Warriors quite yet, but they showed they can move on from a tough loss and come away with a big victory in a hostile environment.