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What we learned as Kings blow lead in crucial second loss to Mavs

SACRAMENTO – In their most important game of the 2023-24 NBA season thus far, the Kings failed to redeem themselves in Friday’s 107-103 loss to the Dallas Mavericks at Golden 1 Center.

Jason Kidd and the Mavericks were prepared for a “different” Kings team than the one they faced 72 hours ago, and while that’s who they got Friday, the Kings’ late collapse gave Dallas the edge in the end.

Harrison Barnes got going early, finishing with 20 points, six rebounds and one assist in 39 minutes.

De’Aaron Fox had a team-high 23 points and Domantas Sabonis picked up his 26th triple-double of the season.

Meanwhile, Kyrie Irving and Luka Dončić combined for 56 points.

When a win, the Kings (42-31) would have pulled even with the Mavericks (44-29) for the Western Conference’s No. 6 playoff seed and secured the regular-season series tiebreaker over Dallas. Instead, the loss puts them in the No. 8 spot.

Here are the takeaways from the Kings’ loss.

Another late collapse

The Kings outscored the Mavericks in the first two quarters, split even with them in the third and then crumbled in the final quarter.

Sacramento scored just 21 points in the final frame, while Dallas’ offense got flowing just at the right time, and its 34 fourth-quarter points pushed the Mavericks past the finish line.

This finish line had playoff implications, though, with both teams battling for the No. 6 seed.

What once was a 15-point lead became a tie ball game when Dante Exum drained a 23-foot 3-pointer at the midway point of the fourth quarter.

About five minutes later – with 28.1 seconds remaining in the contest – it was Exum once again who knocked down the go-ahead 3 that gave the Mavericks the 106-103 lead. Dončić cashed in one more free throw to ultimately seal the deal in Sacramento.

Keon, HB fuel hot start

By the first 12 minutes, the Kings already scored more points in a quarter than they did in any quarter from Tuesday’s loss to the Mavericks.

The Kings dropped 34 points in the opening frame on 15-of-28 (53.6 percent) shooting from the field and 4 of 9 (44.4 percent) from 3-point range. Three days ago, they scored 28, 25, 23 and 20, respectively.

In Tuesday’s contest, Keon Ellis finished with 10 points and Harrison Barnes had seven. By the first quarter Friday, they each had 11 points.

Ellis finished with 16 points on 5-of-12 shooting from the field and 4 of 9 from deep. Barnes had 20 points on 8-of-19 shooting from the field and 1 of 4 from downtown.

Kings coach Mike Brown wouldn’t flat-out blame fatigue for Tuesday’s blowout loss, but they played their fifth game in seven days — and it was apparent.

With two days of rest before the pivotal rematch, the Kings came out re-energized from the opening tip.

While it took the Mavericks a little more time to match that energy, they ultimately got going when it mattered.

A recognizable offense

Tuesday’s loss was the ninth time the Kings scored under 100 points. Each of those games have been losses for Sacramento.

While Brown is pushing a defensive turnaround, offense is where this team thrives and shines.

And even as they make the small but significant steps toward being a good defensive team, Brown doesn’t want them to lose their identity.

After scoring just 96 points on Tuesday on 38.9-percent shooting from the field and 36.7 from deep, the Kings’ offense looked more like itself on Friday.

While it wasn’t enough to get the job done, it was refreshing to see the defensive urgency isn’t completely reeling the team away from where it shines.

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