Despite the absence of Luka Doncic, the Dallas Mavericks exploded for 45 points in the first quarter and remained unbeaten in the Kyrie Irving era with a 122-114 victory over the host Sacramento Kings on Friday night.
The Western Conference playoff contenders meet in a rematch Saturday night, also in the California capital.
Playing his second game for Dallas since a trade from Brooklyn last week, Irving paced the Mavericks with 25 points while also contributing to the balanced attack with a game-high 10 assists. It was just his fourth double-double of the season.
Seven Dallas players scored in double figures as the Mavericks won for the fifth time in six games.
In winning its third straight on the road, Dallas led just 19-17 nearly seven minutes into the game before putting up another 26 points over the final five minutes of the period to go up 45-25.
Christian Wood had 13 consecutive Mavericks points during the 26-8 flurry, which featured five 3-pointers, including a pair by Wood.
The Kings never led and trailed by as many as 24, but they inched progressively closer, getting within 104-94 on a De’Aaron Fox interior hoop with 7:42 to go and 114-106 with 1:34 left on another Fox hoop.
However, Irving capped his night with six clinching free throws, allowing the Mavericks, playing their fourth consecutive game without Doncic (heel), to beat the Kings in their first of three meetings this season.
Josh Green backed Irving with 17 points for the Mavericks, while Tim Hardaway Jr. had 15, Wood and Reggie Bullock had 13 apiece, Jaden Hardy added 12 and JaVale McGee contributed 11 points and nine rebounds.
Shortly after finding out he’d been added to the All-Star team, Fox had 33 points to lead all scorers. However, he shot just 1-for-5 from 3-point range as the Kings were outscored 54-27 by the guests from beyond the arc.
Domantas Sabonis put up 18 points, 11 rebounds and a team-high seven assists for the Kings, who had won their previous two games. Keegan Murray went for 16 points and Kevin Huerter 15.
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