The Sacramento Kings and Dallas Mavericks were picked by many to finish near the bottom of the Western Conference and both squads will be searching for their first wins when they tangle Friday night in Texas. The Mavericks withered late in a 117-111 home loss to Atlanta to begin the 20th season in Dallas for forward Dirk Nowitzki, who struggled to 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting.
The bright spots for Dallas were the solid debut for 19-year-old rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. (16 points, 10 assists) and a 6-of-6 effort - to go along with 11 rebounds - for backup forward Nerlens Noel. Justin Jackson, who tangled with Smith last year in the ACC, was limited to five points in 19 minutes in his debut for the Kings during a season-opening 105-100 loss to Houston. Fellow rookie De’Aaron Fox fared much better, amassing 14 points, five assists and four rebounds off the bench for Sacramento. Dallas has taken 23 of the last 25 meetings with the Kings at home.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN California (Sacramento), FS Southwest (Dallas)
ABOUT THE KINGS (0-1): Fox - who is nearly a month younger than Smith - put forth an effort that provided an early glimpse of a potential franchise cornerstone. “Even though I’ve seen him for the last month or so, it’s something to see,” guard Garrett Temple told reporters. “When those lights go on, his ability to get into the paint and push the pace is something I haven’t seen, besides John Wall. When he gets it going, picks his spots, when he gets that jumper down he is going to be hard to guard.” Willie Cauley-Stein led the Kings with 21 points and 10 rebounds in the loss to Houston while veteran point guard George Hill had 16 points in his team debut.
ABOUT THE MAVERICKS (0-1): Smith surpassed Nowitzki as the youngest player to start for the Mavericks and has said all the right things so far, displaying a leadership quality that could carry the organization for years. “I’ve been playing basketball for so long, at the end of the day, age is not a factor,’’ Smith told reporters. “We’ll watch the film and come back ready to go Friday.’’ Forward Harrison Barnes averaged nearly three points fewer after the All-Star break than he did before it last season, and he opened this campaign by missing all six of his 3-point attempts while shooting 3-of-13 overall.
1. The Mavericks attempted 45 3-pointers in the loss to the Hawks, who took just 18 from beyond the arc.
2. Kings G Buddy Hield, who had 19 points against Houston, hit 7-of-14 3-pointers in his three games versus Dallas last season.
3. Nowitzki has 1,782 career 3-pointers, five behind Rashard Lewis for 13th on the NBA’s all-time list.
PREDICTION: Mavericks 114, Kings 109