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  • TONY GUTIERREZ / Associated Press

    Dallas' Vince Carter attempts a three-pointer against DeMarcus Cousins. Carter made six three-pointers and had 26 points.

  • PAUL MOSELEY / Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram

    The Mavericks' Darren Collison (4) drives against the Kings' Isaiah Thomas (22). Collison finished with 18 points and nine assists.

Kings' defense struggles in loss to Mavericks

Published: Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 - 6:30 pm

DALLAS – Vince Carter was eventually going to make it to 29th on the NBA's all-time scoring list.

The Kings just made sure he did it before the All-Star break.

Carter was the latest player to benefit from the Kings' nonexistent defense as the Dallas Mavericks breezed to a 123-100 victory Wednesday night at American Airlines Center.

The Kings (19-35) have surrendered more than 100 points in five of their last six games. They take a two-game losing streak and a six-game road skid into the break.

DeMarcus Cousins said the Kings need to "crack down defensively."

"We've given up a lot of points these last couple of games," he said. "It's just us wanting to play defense. That's what it's going to start with. That's basically what it is."

The Kings want to push the pace so they can score in the 100-point range. But they haven't figured out how to do that while preventing the opposition from scoring at a pace they can't match.

The Mavericks (23-29) had to be happy to see the Kings. Three of Dallas' top four scoring games this season have come against them.

Carter had to be the happiest Maverick. He came off the bench and scored a game-high 26 points, giving him 21,796 to pass Boston legend and Hall of Famer Larry Bird.

The Kings had cut an 18-point deficit to 73-66 with 4:51 left in the third quarter when Carter got loose. He made back-to-back three-pointers to push the lead to 79-66 and two more to close the quarter.

In the third, Carter made five three-pointers and scored 17 points.

"He was hot," Tyreke Evans said. "We've got to get to the shooter.

Carter finished with six three-pointers in nine attempts and became the 11th player in league history to make at least 1,600 three-pointers.

Carter exploited the Kings' lax perimeter defense and transition defense, as well as their inability to rebound consistently in the third quarter.

"You have a roller to the basket and they start converging too soon, and now they're looking for Vince on the wing," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "But also he had a couple threes in transition where he walked right into his three. A rebound that was missed that we didn't get, a kickout for a wide-open three."

Carter couldn't believe his fortunes against the Kings' defense.

"The rim looked like a lake, and there were a couple of times, I think the last two shots, I was wide open," Carter said. "And I was like, 'Well, they left me open, so I'm going to shoot it.' "

The Kings began the season with a concerted effort to improve their defense, but they've gotten away from that lately.

Mavericks point guard Darren Collison had his way, too, getting 18 points and nine assists.

"How many times did Collison drive to the basket and we never left the floor to challenge the shot?" Smart said. "Defense is real simple. It's rebounding and contesting shots in the paint."

The Kings have made the real simple look very difficult lately.

Asked what's wrong with the defense, Evans said, "I don't know, man. We've got to play better on the road, rotate to shooters, run guys off the (three-point) line. That's all I can say."

Evans, who led the Kings with 23 points, said the effort just isn't consistent.

"I see it for the first couple of quarters and that's it," Evans said. "We have to keep doing it over and over again."

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