The Southwest Division champs for the first time in three seasons, the Dallas Mavericks aren’t satisfied with their place in the Western Conference standings.
Dallas continues its push for the second seed Saturday when it goes for its sixth consecutive victory over the Sacramento Kings.
With San Antonio losing 107-99 to Memphis earlier Friday, the Mavericks (52-27) clinched the division with an 83-77 victory at Portland. It is Dallas’ first title since 2006-07 when it finished a franchise-best 67-15.
“We’d love to finish second and have home-court (advantage in the playoffs) as long as we can, so this was a big win for us,” Dirk Nowitzki(notes) said Friday after totaling 40 points and 10 rebounds.
Although the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers clinched the top seed in the West on Friday with a victory in Minnesota, Dallas has a favorable schedule to break a tie with Denver for the No. 2 seed. The Mavericks close against Sacramento, the Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio while the Nuggets finish versus the Spurs, Grizzlies and Phoenix.
The Mavericks continue their three-game trip in search of their second four-game sweep of Sacramento in the last four seasons.
Dallas has won 21 of 26 in this matchup.
In their only previous visit to Arco Arena, the Mavericks won 99-91 on Jan. 2.
Nowitzki scored a team-high 25 points with seven rebounds in that matchup as the Mavericks held Sacramento (25-54) to 40.2 percent shooting.
“They’re a very complete team at both ends of the floor,” said Kings coach Paul Westphal, a former assistant coach and executive vice president of basketball operations for the Mavericks.
With Nowitzki scoring 15 of his 31 in the fourth quarter, the host Mavericks won their fifth straight over Sacramento on March 5, 102-95.
Evans, the league’s highest-scoring rookie at 20.1 points per game, had 28 with seven assists and six rebounds Thursday when Sacramento defeated the Clippers 116-94 to snap an eight-game slide.
“(Evans) would be my Rookie of the Year,” said Clippers interim coach Kim Hughes.
While Evans might not receive that award, he needs 51 points in the last three games to become the fourth rookie in league history to average 20.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists. The first three were Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James(notes).
Evans is averaging 21.0 points, 7.3 assists and 4.3 boards in the three losses to Dallas.
The Mavericks will get their second look at power forward Carl Landry(notes) in a Kings uniform. One of the top scoring bench players in the NBA while with Houston, Landry is averaging 17.8 points and 6.7 rebounds while starting all 25 games for Sacramento since being acquired from the Rockets in February.
He had 21 points and eight rebounds in the March 5 loss.