Kings coach Michael Malone summed up this loss the best.
“Great first quarter, but this is a 48-minute game,” Malone said.
That’s all the Kings could really take from blowing a 24-point lead and losing their second game in a row, 106-98, to the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center.
The Kings have lost 21 consecutive games in Dallas, and this was one of their more frustrating.
The Kings are 5-3 on the season, which is still a surprise to many. It’s still their best season start in eight years, matching the 2006-07 mark.
But 5-3 doesn’t feel so good, given the nature of the three losses. The Kings did not handle adversity, namely foul trouble, well.
Sunday, the Kings came out flat and lost against an undermanned Oklahoma City team and followed that Tuesday by blowing their biggest lead ince Nov. 13, 2003 at Portland.
“We played one quarter tonight and we defended for one quarter,” Malone said. “That’s two games in a row where we haven’t defended well at all after defending really well to start the (season) off. To allow them to shoot 48 percent is unacceptable. To have that many turnovers (22), 17 turnovers in the second half, is unacceptable.”
The Kings opened the game on a 24-4 run and led 44-20 with 8:46 left in the second quarter.
The Mavs began to take control later in the quarter. It began with the Kings up 52-31 when DeMarcus Cousins picked up his third foul with 4:55 before halftime. The Mavs took advantage of that to close the half on a 17-5 run.
Dallas took its first lead, 69-67, on a basket by Monta Ellis with 5:37 left in the third quarter.
Cousins (16 points, 11 rebounds) was bothered by the foul calls but kept his answers about them politically correct.
“They had a momentum swing,” Cousins said. “What’s the word I’m looking for? I’m trying to say this without getting in trouble. They had a momentum swing.”
The Kings were called for 32 fouls. The Mavericks drew plenty of whistles too, and were called for 29 fouls.
Ramon Sessions started at point guard for Darren Collison who missed the game with stiffness in his left shoulder. Collison wasn’t injured Sunday and said he began to have problems with the shoulder Monday.
Sessions had 18 points but no assists.
“I think he did a very good job scoring the ball, attacking,” Malone said. “You want your starting point guard to get a few assists, but Rudy (Gay) did a good job of sharing the ball; Cousins (five assists) did at times early.”
Sessions played a season-high 36 minutes, but it was only the secondgame this season he did not have an assist.
“It’s the flow of the game,” Sessions said. “It wasn’t like I was out there hogging the ball. It’s the flow of the game, the sets we was running and guys missing shots here and there.”
Gay led the Kings with 26 points and eight assists. He also had a game-high seven turnovers to match his career high, which came last season, March 29 at Dallas. Gay had six turnovers in the second half.
“That’s something I’ve just got to clean up,” Gay said. “At that point, when we need points, we can’t have unforced turnovers, and that was one of those things I’ve got to look at and figure out how I can be better.”
The Kings’ perimeter defense was off again, with Dallas guards able to find their way to the basket without enough resistance, thanks in part to the turnovers.
Dallas had 25 fast-break points and scored 15 off Kings turnovers.
Ellis scored all 16 of his points in the second half. Guard Devin Harris had 12 points and five assists off the bench.
Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavs (5-3) with 23 points. Chandler Parsons scored 19.