What we learned as Kings' defensive flaws exposed in loss to Mavs


SACRAMENTO -- Friday's game at Golden 1 Center was billed as a Western Conference showdown between the No. 3 seed Kings and the No. 4 seed Dallas Mavericks.

But it was the Mavericks who put on a show in the first quarter and the Kings never were able to fully recover.

The Kings got bullied by a Mavericks team that was missing their best player in Luka Doncic, who is dealing with a heel injury. The result was a 122-114 loss for Sacramento. 

The Mavericks (31-26) pulled within one game of the Kings (31-24) in the Western Conference standings, with the two teams set to play again Saturday night at G1C. 

Here are the takeaways from the Kings' loss. 

A first quarter to forget

The Mavericks took advantage early of a lost and atrocious Kings team, dropping 45 points in the opening quarter, the most they’ve scored in a quarter this season.  

There was no excuse for the Kings' defensive showing. It was ugly. The switches and lack of communication on defense exposed a big problem the team has been facing all season. 

Dallas shot 64.3 percent from the field and 53.8 percent from deep. Granted, the Mavericks did hit some tough shots, but they also got too many easy looks cutting to the basket, in transition, and after offensive rebounds. They had eight second-chance points in the quarter. The Kings had two. 

And not only did the Kings forget how to defend, they also couldn’t get it going on the other end either. Sacramento shot 42.1 percent from the field and 14.3 percent from behind the arc. They turned the ball over four times, while the Mavs turned it over once. 

The Kings were outscored. They were outrebounded. And they turned the ball over more. Not exactly a recipe for success. 

Fox, Murray not enough 

De’Aaron Fox showed exactly why he was named to his first NBA All-Star Game earlier Friday. He finished with 33 points on 10-of-16 shooting, six rebounds and five assists.

Fox had a perfect first half offensively, scoring 18 points on 4-of-4 shooting from the field and made all eight of his free-throw attempts. He got some help from one of his teammate who also will be heading to All-Star weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

Keegan Murray had an efficient shooting night, finishing with 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 from downtown, along with three rebounds. It was his 14th game this season with at least four made 3-pointers.

Murray will be a part of the Rising Stars Game, and that couldn’t be any more spot on. The 22-year-old looked like a star in the making Friday. His evolution has been special, but it still wasn’t enough for the Kings. 

Fox captained the boat and Murray’s efforts helped keep the team afloat, but the Mavericks ultimately sank any hopes they had. 

Bench goes silent 

By the end of the first half, every active Mavericks player had scored. In fact, Dallas had 34 first-half bench points. The Kings’ bench had seven. 

Anyone not named Malik Monk or Terence Davis was silent on the offensive end. Chimezie Metu eventually got involved in the second half, contributing seven points to the contest. 

Trey Lyles, Davion Mitchell and Keon Ellis all failed to score, with Lyles and Ellis never even taking a single shot. 

Of course, players like Mitchell contribute in other ways, like on the defensive end, but when the Kings needed a push offensively, the bench couldn’t provide much help. 

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The Kings will look to bounce back against the Mavericks on Saturday on the second night of the back-to-back, but it might be a tougher task. There’s a possibility that Doncic will return to play alongside Irving for the first time.

Hopefully for the Kings, it will be a different outcome.

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