Kings-Mavericks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 09, 2012
The Sacramento Kings managed to keep their momentum going when they headed out on the road, but history doesn't appear to be on their side as they try for a fourth consecutive victory. To keep their win streak going, the Kings will have to snap a lengthy skid in Dallas on Monday night and deny the Mavericks a season high-tying third straight victory. Sacramento (7-12) became the last Western Conference team to earn a road win Saturday despite the absence of starting guard Tyreke Evans. John Salmons had season highs of 19 points and 11 assists in a 99-80 victory over Portland and DeMarcus Cousins recorded his third straight double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds. "It feels good," Salmons said. "Especially coming off two home wins, to go on the road and get that third win. Hopefully, we can continue doing that." The turning point for the Kings, Salmons said, was a 116-81 loss at the Los Angeles Clippers on Dec. 1. Since then, the team is averaging 99.0 points - 5.4 more than in its first 16 contests - and it allowed fewer than 83 in each of its last two games. "We took a step back and we all took a look at ourselves in the mirror," Salmons said. "I feel like we all know we have to play together to win games." The Kings, who opened a four-game trip Saturday, haven't won back-to-back road games since March 2011, also the last time they had a four-game overall winning streak. The prospects of ending those droughts don't appear promising as they've lost 16 straight in Dallas during the regular season, the NBA's third-longest active road losing streak versus one opponent. Sacramento's most recent win there was part of its last playoff series victory in 2004. Including the postseason, the Kings have dropped 20 of 21 in Dallas, but they earned their lone win in the last 12 overall meetings March 9 at home. With 17 points, Evans was one of seven Sacramento players in double figures in that 110-97 victory, but he's questionable for this game after missing four of the past five contests with a sore knee. The Kings could use Evans against a Mavericks team that's playing better following a 1-4 stretch. Dallas is returning home after finishing a three-game road trip with back-to-back wins, rallying for a 116-109 victory over Houston on Saturday. O.J. Mayo scored 10 of his career high-tying 40 points in the final three minutes, and Chris Kaman had 20 despite a badly bruised left ankle. "With guys down ... and hurting a little bit, guys came and battled tonight," Kaman said. "O.J. played an unbelievable game for us." Mayo has scored 20 points or more 11 times this season to help the Mavericks (10-10) stay afloat without perennial scoring leader Dirk Nowitzki, who is recovering from knee surgery. "What (Mayo is) showing over the first 20 games is that he has the ability to carry a team at times," coach Rick Carlisle said. "It was really impressive (Saturday). He's shown a strong-willed mentality and is really hungry to win." Shawn Marion missed Saturday's win with a strained right groin and his status is unclear.
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