Sacramento Kings at Dallas Mavericks
- The Mavericks have won their last 17 home games against the Kings; that is the second-longest active home win streak by any team versus any opponent (Spurs vs. Warriors -- 28). The last time the Kings won a regular season game on Dallas' home floor was February 27, 2003.
- Sacramento has scored at least 30 points in the paint in 59 straight games dating back to last season. That is the second-longest streak in the NBA (Nuggets -- 131).
- The Mavericks are averaging 17.2 fast break points per game so far in 2012-13. That is a 5.3 ppg improvement over last season (11.9).
- DeMarcus Cousins is averaging 26.3 points (on 57.7% shooting) and 11.0 rebounds in his last three games against the Mavericks.
- Isaiah Thomas is perfect (32/32) from the free-throw line so far in February. Since the start of 2008-09, only four players have shot 100% from the free-throw line in any single month (minimum 30 FTM): Jose Calderon, November 2008 w/Toronto -- 35-for-35, Ray Allen, January 2009 w/Boston -- 34-for-34, Dirk Nowitzki, April 2010 w/Dallas -- 55-for-55 and Kevin Martin, October 2010 w/Houston -- 30-for-30.
- Dirk Nowitzki has been held to 17 points or less in each of his last six regular-season games against the Kings. That is tied for his longest such streak versus any team in his career.
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By JEFF BARTL
(AP) -- Turning in more lackluster performances resembling their latest one might result in the Dallas Mavericks growing their beards into the offseason.
Facing the visiting Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night could get them closer to busting out their razors.
Dallas seeks an 18th straight regular-season home win and third overall this season versus Sacramento, which has lost five straight on the road.
Vince Carter, O.J. Mayo and Dirk Nowitzki are just a few of the Mavericks (22-29) who have vowed not to shave until the team reaches the .500 mark, which seems a long way off considering their effort in Monday's 105-101 home loss to Atlanta.
Dallas will head into the All-Star break needing to make up plenty of ground to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.
"It just makes it tougher in the second half," Carter said. "We have to keep going, we have to win the next one. It's important for us to look at the next game and not look too far ahead."
Carter's beard, though, is in need of a trim that it might not see for quite awhile. Nowitzki scored a team-high 24 points and Mayo added 19 on Monday, and each is sporting plenty of facial hair.
Carter said they all believe the Mavericks can reach their goal.
"Guys are confident. That's why we came together on the whole beard thing," Carter said. "It's because we still believe, and that's kind of bringing each other together and holding each other accountable. We still have an opportunity in the second part of the season."
Coach Rick Carlisle wants to see improvement before then.
"We have one opportunity here before the break (to improve), so it's an important game," Carlisle said. "It's all about us playing better to trend upward as a team. We're all going to have to work hard and dig in. I still believe we can do it."
Dallas seemingly has a good chance to get back on track by knocking off a Kings team it has beaten 13 of the last 14 times. Mayo scored 19 points in a 119-96 home win over Sacramento on Dec. 10, then netted 24 while Carter added 23 as the Mavericks came from 17 down in a 117-112 overtime road victory Jan. 10.
December's blowout in Dallas was hardly a rarity when the Kings are in town. The Mavs have outscored Sacramento by an average of 14.8 points in their lengthy home regular-season series winning streak.
The Kings (19-34), though, had won two straight prior to Tuesday's 108-101 loss at Memphis, and Carlisle believes his team is in for a touch matchup.
"They're coming off two games where they beat Utah and Houston - two playoff teams above us," Carlisle said, "They're playing well, so we're going to have to do better."
DeMarcus Cousins scored 23 points Tuesday and is averaging 26.3 in his last three versus the Mavericks. Sacramento, though, dropped to 5-22 on the road this season and is averaging just 86.8 points and shooting 41.3 percent during its five-game road skid.
"When you get a chance on the road to close the gap and get the game in your favor, you've got to take that," coach Keith Smart said. "I thought these guys deserved to win the game based off how they performed."
Smart said the Kings need to improve their transition defense, though, as they allowed 28 fast-break points Tuesday. They've given up an average of 109.2 points with opponents shooting 52.0 percent over their last five.
Updated February 13, 2013