NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, April 10th (All times eastern)
Dallas Mavericks (52-27) at Sacramento Kings (25-54), 10 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Fresh off clinching the Southwest Division title, the Dallas Mavericks get back to work on securing the Western Conference's second seed in Sacramento tonight.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 23 of his 40 points in the second half on Friday, powering Dallas to an 83-77 win over Portland and helping the Mavericks secure the Southwest crown.
Nowitzki, who was perfect on 17 foul shots, also had 10 rebounds as the Mavericks won for the fifth time in seven games.
"It was really a battle," Nowitzki said. "I think the last time we played here they were just way more physical, they were way more ready. They got every loose ball. We talked about that yesterday, how we have to be ready from the jump. I think we did a better job staying with them."
Despite shooting 33.8 percent, Dallas was able to win the division for the first time since 2007 thanks in part to San Antonio's loss earlier Friday against Memphis. Heading to the playoffs for a 10th straight year, the Mavs are currently tied with Denver for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference with three games to play.
Caron Butler added 18 points for the Mavs, who will finish a three-game road trip against the LA Clippers next Monday before returning home to meet San Antonio in the season finale next Wednesday.
The Kings, meanwhile, snapped an eight-game skid on Thursday when Tyreke Evans scored a game-best 28 points and added seven assists and six rebounds, as Sacramento lapped the Los Angeles Clippers, 116-94.
Jason Thompson notched 22 points and 15 rebounds, while Carl Landry also registered a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Beno Udrih and Francisco Garcia had 12 points apiece for the Kings.
"Well, that was a nice picture of how we want to play," Kings coach Paul Westphal said. "So I'm pleased that our guys have kept their focus and kept their intensity and came out and could play a game that efficiently. (We) did a great job on the boards, a great job with the turnovers, played decent defense, moved the ball around and got good performances from everybody that played."
Dallas has won five straight over the Kings and will be aiming to sweep the season series tonight.
04/10 10:36:01 ET