By Dwain Price, The Sports Xchange
DALLAS — The Sacramento Kings played smash-mouth basketball with the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night and emerged with a hard-fought 93-88 victory at American Airlines Center.
With Willie Cauley-Stein hauling in 11 boards, the Kings won the rebounding battle by a sizeable 57-36 margin. In fact, eight of the 10 players who played for Sacramento each grabbed at least five boards.
The performance was more than enough to satisfy Kings coach Dave Joerger.
“We had nine guys get an offensive rebound,” said Joerger after his teams squared their record at 1-1. “We’re hustling.
“Happy group because it’s the first win for almost 11 of those guys in a Kings uniform, so it’s a good feeling and a good way to do it. We’re going to have to scrap and do it together and it feels good in that (locker room) right now.”
George Hill led the Kings with 21 points on 9-of-12 shots. Hill also came up with the crucial play of the game when he scored with 16.1 seconds left to give Sacramento a 91-86 lead.
“George Hill came up big down the stretch,” Joerger said. “A lot of guys in the locker room that have been on the other side of a Zach Randolph where you need a bucket you throw it down on the right block.
“A lot of guys made a lot of big plays in different areas.”
The Mavs (0-2) played without two guards who are in their rotation. Rookie sensation Dennis Smith Jr. sat out the game with a left knee effusion and Devin Harris also missed the game following the death of his brother, who was killed in an automobile accident early Thursday morning.
“He’s got a little swelling — not believed to be serious,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said of Smith, who also won’t play in Saturday’s game in Houston. “We hope he’s OK for Monday (when the Mavs host the world champion Golden State Warriors.”
Dallas went on a 12-0 run to take a 72-71 lead midway through the fourth quarter. But behind Hill, Randolph (13 points) Buddy Hield (13 points) and Cauley-Stein (10 points), the Kings regrouped and handcuffed the Mavs.
“They made a run in the fourth quarter and I felt like we responded,” Kings rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox said. “Our veterans kept us in it.”
Harrison Barnes paced the Mavs with 24 points and Dorian Finney-Smith and Yogi Ferrell each tallied 14 points. Dirk Nowitzki added 10 points for the Mavs.
“I think this season there’s going to be a lot of games like tonight,” Barnes said. “It’s going to be close, it’s going to come down to a couple of stops, a couple of rebounds here and there.
“Throughout the course of the game we went big and still got outrebounded. So, it’s more of an effort or focus as opposed to line up and personal and that type of thing.”
Hill liked the overall effort by the Kings, especially on the boards.
“This is still new to all of us, rotation-wise, lineups and things like that, seeing different schemes,” Hill said. “I think we can only get better with experience and us playing.
“We’re doing this right now with just a little bit of experience and a little bit of time together, so I think we have great length, great speed, things like that. It only can get better from here.”