The Dallas Mavericks' lone set of three games in three nights didn't get off to a good start, and they are hoping another long streak of dominance over an opponent doesn't end in the next stop on their trip.
The Mavericks have dropped five straight on the road but have won 10 in a row over the Sacramento Kings heading into Friday night's matchup at Power Balance Pavilion.
There is plenty of speculation about how Dallas (23-18) will handle this grueling stretch of schedule with Jason Kidd, who will turn 39 on March 23. Kidd logged 30 minutes and had 12 points Thursday, but the Mavericks' eight-game winning streak over Phoenix ended with a 96-94 loss.
The Mavericks haven't dropped six straight on the road since an eight-game slide Nov. 7-30, 1999, but have to feel good about their chances against Sacramento (13-26). Dallas hasn't lost in this series since a 102-95 defeat Nov. 11, 2009.
The Kings were dreadful in the first meeting this season, a 99-60 loss Jan. 14 in Dallas. The 60 points marked the fewest allowed in Mavericks franchise history.
Fatigue was a factor that night, with both teams finishing stretches of four games in five days. The Mavs had an edge, however, since they'd blown out Milwaukee the previous night and were relatively well-rested at home for a Kings team coming off a loss in Houston.
Sacramento is now entering the second contest of a nine-game homestand after defeating New Orleans 99-98 on Wednesday. Rookie Isaiah Thomas came up with a steal and fed John Salmons for the go-ahead layup with 6.8 seconds left.
The Kings ended a four-game skid capped by Monday's 119-116 overtime loss at Denver.
"We obviously play different at home, so it's nice to have eight more on our court,'' forward Jason Thompson said. "It was good to get this win and get the monkey off our back. We've had a lot of tough games lately, especially the Denver (one)."
Thomas, a 5-foot-9 second-round pick out of Washington, is averaging 14.7 points in 10 games since making his first start Feb. 17.
"People start looking at his heart, his desire, his toughness. Those were never in question,'' coach Keith Smart said. "I think more than anything else, he was evaluated based on how big he is and what can he do in the NBA before the draft."
Second-year center DeMarcus Cousins missed Wednesday's game with food poisoning, but expects to play Friday. He's posted double-doubles in all four of his career games against the Mavericks, averaging 16.0 points and 12.0 rebounds but shooting only 39.3 percent.
It's unclear what big men Dallas will have to counter Cousins. Brendan Haywood has missed the last two games with a left ankle injury and Brandan Wright is out with a concussion.
The Mavs had a chance to send Thursday's game to overtime, but Rodrigue Beaubois missed two chances to tie the score in the closing seconds. Shooting guard Jason Terry was not on the court for the end, and coach Rick Carlisle said that was a "coach's decision.''
Dallas escaped with two-point victories in both visits to Sacramento last season.