The Kings Take the Throne

Sometimes I think I hate this team. I really do. Sometimes I think I hate the Mavericks, but then I remember that’s just the nature of being a true fan. The lucky breaks don’t always even out, the tide can turn permanently against you, and it doesn’t just pour when it rains — it turns into a full-scale fucking flood. This is what I get for going into a game with the mindset that my team was in for an easy win.

Of course, I should have looked a little deeper into Sacramento’s record. They may have entered play at 6-12, but they’re a different team with DeMarcus Cousins in the lineup, and that was the version of the Kings the Mavericks were treated to Monday night. Cousins lived up to the hype, scoring 31 points while throwing in 9 rebounds and 6 assists on the side just because. At 6-foot-11 and 270 pounds, Cousins is one of the most dominant big men in the game today, and he’s even added a three-point shot to his repertoire this season. Although he shot just 1-for-8 from downtown in last night’s game, that didn’t stop him from having his way with the Mavericks.

To make matters worse, Dallas also had no answer for Rudy Gay. A 6-foot-8 forward who can do a little bit of everything, Gay added 20 points and 7 rebounds of his own. Paired with Cousins, most teams wouldn’t have an answer on defense, and that’s exactly what makes the Kings so dangerous with the ball when their best lineup is on the floor. As capable of a defender as Wes Matthews is, he doesn’t have the size or the strength to shut down Gay.

There were times, in fact, when I wondered if the Kings were perhaps the tallest team in the history of the NBA. Obviously Rajon Rondo is a pretty normal height even by non-NBA standards, but with Cousins, Gay, and the 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein on the court to start the game, everyone on the Mavericks looked like midgets — baby midgets. Zaza Pachulia and Dirk Nowitzki may both be listed at 6-foot-11, but neither has the bulk to compare to the twin towers the Kings ran out, and every time Matthews approached Gay I thought a child had gotten onto the court and wanted an autograph.

While the Kings rate well offensively, particularly when Cousins hasn’t been suspended for destroying the locker room after a loss, they are very nearly the worst defensive team in the league. Never was this more evident than the first quarter, when the Mavericks came out firing on all cylinders. They closed the quarter shooting 61.1 percent from the field and held a 32-23 lead, but Sacramento would go on to dominate the rest of the way. If you haven’t already been able to pick up my feelings about that by the tone of this post already, let’s just settle with the word “infuriated.”

The game was undone by the third quarter really, which was oddly enough the quarter the Mavericks’ opponent shit the bed in their last game. After the blazing start, Dallas shot just 43.5 percent in the second quarter and then scored 13 points on 5-for-22 from the field in the third. Worse still, nine of those attempts were three-pointers, and they were all misses. This team’s woes from beyond the arc are simply unacceptable. I’m tired of hearing about how the players that can’t make a three this year are normally reliable from that range and are just off to bad starts; at this point, the season is a month old and no one aside from Nowitzki and Deron Williams can be trusted to ever take a three.

Dirk went cold again today, shooting 5-for-15 from the field, and unfortunately no one could pick him up. Williams was just as bad, going 4-for-14, and the forever-recovering Matthews shot 4-for-11. Chandler Parsons was a bright spot in his 24 minutes, scoring 14 points and dishing out 3 assists, but that minutes restriction is nowhere close to being lifted yet.

Games like this really reveal the Mavericks for what they are, which is a team that has zero go-to options when Dirk can’t find his stroke or is resting on the bench because he’s 1,000 years old and can only play so long before he needs his prune juice and a nap. At times, the offense zips along, and the unselfish passing leads to great looks. At other times, no one can hit a shot no matter how open they are, and the shot clock winds down while Raymond Felton or J.J. Barea tries a fadeaway three that I would have a better chance of hitting.

I don’t mean to get too negative here. A 10-8 record is still better than many pundits expected at this point, and it’s not like I haven’t totally fallen in love with this team. I just wanted a win against the Kings, and instead all I got was a DeMarcus Cousins highlight reel.

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