Rudy Gay did just about all he could against the potentially playoff-bound Dallas Mavericks on Sunday. Everything except take the game-altering shot.
Instead it was DeMarcus Cousins, not Gay, who took the final attempt of the day with the Sacramento Kings’ down two. A fadeaway jumper from the left baseline was all Cousins could muster after receiving the pass from Ray McCallum. Launch, miss, ball game for the Kings who fell to the Mavs 93-91 in the Sunday home game.
“At the end, we tried to the get the ball into Rudy’s hands to let him make a play,” Kings coach Michael Malone said after the loss. “He’s a guy that’s a proven closer. Obviously, it did not go that way. Ray was not able to get him the ball. Now it’s a broken play, Cuz gets it and takes a contested shot which is obviously not the shot that we were hoping to get. So poor late game execution on that play, prior to that, I thought that we did a pretty good job of executing.”
The Kings managed to stay alive against the Mavs despite falling behind by as many as six-points in the final two minutes of the game. Timely baskets and a few bad bounces at the free throw line by the Mavs kept the Kings within striking distance all the way to the end. Shawn Marion and shockingly, Dirk Nowitzki missed a combined three free throws in the final 20 seconds of regulation to give the Kings life as the game came to a close.
Gay finished with a near triple-double, tallying a game-high 32 points, six rebounds and a career-high tying eight assists. Meanwhile, Cousins chipped in his fourth straight and 49th double-double this season, finishing with 28 points and 10 rebounds.
“I think that was partly what we came in here planning to do,” Gay said when asked if he and Cousins were trying to shoulder most of the load in Sunday’s loss. “Obviously, competitive nature in both of us… For us to be competitive, we have to be coming in, playing like that every day.”
Though McCallum struggled in the deciding play of the game, the Kings rookie had a bounce-back performance following a tough outing against the Golden State Warriors. In his seventh-straight start in place of the injured Isaiah Thomas, McCallum scored eight points and dished out nine assists in 48 minutes . His 318 minutes over the last seven games surpasses the Sacramento-era rookie record of 294 previously held by Lionel Simmons and Jason Williams.
“He’s going to learn,” Gay said of his rookie teammate. “He’s going to be up and down, and last game it was more down than it was up, but he showed improvement today. He came out, he played great defense, moved the ball around – I think he had nine assists – and that’s what we need from him. Obviously we don’t want him to be IT because he’s Ray McCallum, but we want him to be the best Ray McCallum he can be.”
The Mavericks were paced by Monta Ellis in victory . The veteran shooting guard finished with 23 points on 9-of-19 shooting to go along with four rebounds and four assists. Vince Carter came off the Dallas bench to score 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting from the field.
Dallas overcame shooting 40 percent for the game by excelling from beyond the arc and cleaning up the glass. The Mavericks shot close to 42 percent from 3-point distance and won the rebounding battle, 45-40, in their two-point win.
“It’s real simple,” Malone said. “We’ve been in a lot of close games this year and we have to find a way to stop beating ourselves. You hold a very high powered offense to 93 points, 40 percent from the field, great defense. Now with that defense comes the responsibility of finishing off the possession with a rebound.
“We did an awful job of rebounding the ball tonight,” Malone added. “They dominated us with 17 second-chance points. DeJuan Blair had six offensive in maybe 17 minutes of action. Shawn Marion had four offensive rebounds.”
The Kings have now lost the last 18 of 20 regular season match-ups against the Mavs, including the last three. They fall to 27-50 overall and 16-22 at home. The Kings return to action on Tuesday when they host the surging Oklahoma City Thunder at Sleep Train Arena.
Notes and Analysis
- The Mavericks had no answer for Rudy Gay. With his wife expecting to give birth to the couple’s first child at any moment, Gay scored a game-high 32 points on 12-of-18 shooting and tied his career-high in assists with eight.
- DeMarcus Cousins jumped all over the Mavs early, scoring 14 of his 28 points in the first quarter. The big man added three steals, two blocks and 10 rebounds, giving him his 49th double-double this season.
- For the second-straight game, rookie Ray McCallum struggled with his shot. Tonight, he finished with eight points on 4-for-12 shooting, but he handed out nine assists and grabbed four rebounds while playing all but 19 seconds of the game.
- Jason Thompson contributed 27 solid minutes tonight, finishing with five points and eight rebounds, while playing very solid defense. The Kings aren’t asking much from Thompson at this point in the season. He has been relegated to bench rebounder and any opportunity on the offensive end he gets is on his own.
- Ben McLemore disappeared in this one. He scored just five points in 28 minutes on 2-of-9 shooting from the field and 1-for-5 from deep.
- Travis Outlaw scored six points in 24 minutes, but the timing of his shots was spectacular. With the Kings fading to start the fourth quarter, Outlaw dropped in back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game and give new life to a nearly sold out Sleep Train Arena crowd.
- Stat of the Night: The Mavericks starting backcourt of Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon outscored the Kings rookie backcourt of McLemore and McCallum 37-13.
Quote of the Night
Rudy Gay on the last play of the game:
“I take full responsibility for that. Obviously, we didn’t have a timeout. If we did, Coach could’ve written something up, but I just have to go to the ball. I can’t expect Ray (McCallum) to be in that situation the next time; I have to just go get it.”
Video shot and edited by Kimani David.