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Mavericks stay in playoff chase as Kings juggle lineup

The SportsXchange

SACRAMENTO -- The Dallas Mavericks needed a victory and there was no better opponent for them than the Sacramento Kings.

The Mavericks remained within reach of a Western Conference playoff berth with a 117-108 victory Friday night at Sleep Train Arena before an announced crowd of 13,903.

Dallas (37-39) currently is in 10th place in the West behind ninth-place Utah (40-37) and the eighth-place Los Angeles Lakers (40-36).

The Mavericks played like a team with something on the line, while the Kings did not. Dallas swept the season series four games to none and played the game in a manner the Kings wish to play.

Veteran forward Shawn Marion was the recipient on the way to a team-high 25 points.

"Everybody was looking for each other," Marion said, "making extra passes and finding each other. We just started doing things right and we got it done."

The Mavs play in Portland on Sunday night and every game is crucial. Sacramento has little to play for at this stage of the season, but there were few answers for the unusual rotation used.

Kings coach Keith Smart played DeMarcus Cousins just nine minutes and didn't play him in the first quarter. Streaky scorer Marcus Thornton played just five minutes and did not play in the second half.

Neither Cousins nor Thornton had any reasons why they didn't play.

"It's out of my control," Thornton said. "All I can say is 'no comment.' "

Meanwhile, Cousins said, "You have to let that man coach. Y'all are asking the wrong person. I don't have to be given a reason for not playing. He's the coach."

Cousins said he found out he would not be starting at the morning shootaround.

Smart seemed to imply that Cousins' poor defensive play in the second quarter had something to do with his not playing in the second half.

"I thought our guys who started the game did a good job with getting off to a good pace," Smart said, "then we had a big drop off in the second."

Meanwhile, the Mavs, who played Thursday night in Denver bounced back from a loss with a strong all-round performance.

Dallas used a powerful performance from its reserves to outscore the Kings bench, 49-24. Forward Brandan Wright scored 20, while backup point guard Darren Collison scored 18.

The Mavericks started slowly and trailed, 27-18, after one quarter, but used a 41-point second quarter to seize control of the game and never trailed again.

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle pointed to his team's defense in the second quarter.

"We started to get some stops," Carlisle said. "(The Kings) are a high-scoring team and it's rare you are going to hold them under 100 points. We felt that if we kept them under or around 100 then we had a chance."

Marion scored 13 in the third quarter to help keep the Kings at bay.

Isaiah Thomas scored a game-high 29 points to lead the Kings, while Tyreke Evans scored 26. Jason Thompson scored 16 points and had a game and season-high 16 rebounds,

NOTES: The Mavericks entered the contest having won 14 of the past 15 meetings with Sacramento. They have won 30 of the past 36 against the Kings. ... Mavericks guard O.J. Mayo was a high school teammate of Kings forward Patrick Patterson at Huntington High School (Huntington, W.Va.). ... This was the third game of a five-game home stand for the Kings. They host Memphis on Sunday. Sacramento needs to win two of its remaining four home games to finish with a winning home record for the first time since the 2007-08 season (26-15). ... Six of Sacramento's last seven opponents (cq) are against teams that have qualified for the playoffs or are vying for a postseason berth.
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