The Sacramento Kings get an opportunity to take advantage of a travel-weary Dallas Mavericks squad when two of the top teams in the Western Conference duel for the first time this season on Sunday night in Texas.
The Kings celebrated a fifth straight win and settled into their Dallas accommodations following a short trip from San Antonio one day earlier. The Mavericks closed out a generally successful, albeit grueling, four-game trip with a tough, 131-125 loss at Milwaukee on Saturday night.
Kyrie Irving (39 points) and Luka Doncic (35) teamed for 74 points in a combined 69 minutes in the loss, during which the Mavericks, after leading by as many as 12, got overtaken by a 43-point Bucks explosion in the final period.
Sunday’s game, though at home, won’t give the Mavericks a chance to unpack their bags. Their next two games — both at Los Angeles bridging Thanksgiving — will also be on the road.
Irving’s season-high point total came after he had sat out Wednesday’s win at Washington on the second night of a back-to-back. He and Doncic had each topped 30 points in the same game for the first time this season earlier on the trip to New Orleans.
Despite his offensive brilliance in tandem with Irving on Saturday, Doncic reminded everyone basketball is played at two hoops.
“Just got to play better defense. That’s it,” Doncic said. “I don’t think offense is a problem. I think we just have to play better defense.”
That will be no easy task Sunday, when they have to deal with a hot Kings team that has averaged 128.7 points in their last three games.
Sacramento has opened a six-game trip with two wins, 125-110 against the Los Angeles Lakers and 129-120 over the San Antonio Spurs on Friday.
De’Aaron Fox has gone for 28 and 43 points, respectively, in the two wins. In his six games this season, he has poured in 37 or more points three times and 28 on two other occasions.
Kings coach Mike Brown wonders why nobody seems to have noticed.
“The only thing that surprises me is every list I see on these MVP things, I don’t see (Fox’s) name on it at all. Now THAT amazes me,” Brown said. “Even when you start talking about lead guards, his name’s not mentioned. I don’t have an answer for that one, but I know it’s wrong.”
Irving has gotten the better of the individual matchup against Fox, averaging 28.3 points on 47.6 percent shooting. Fox has averaged 24.0 points on 47.2 percent shooting.
The two have dueled three times since Irving joined the Mavericks, including on consecutive nights in Sacramento last February when Fox outscored his rival 33-25 in a 122-114 loss, then 36-28 when the Kings won the rematch 133-128 in overtime.
They also played well last April in Dallas, a game the Mavericks won 123-119 behind Irving’s 31 points. Fox had 28 in the loss.
–Field Level Media
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