DALLAS -- In a much-needed show of force Wednesday night, the Dallas Mavericks stormed into the All-Star break with a very impressive 123-100 triumph over the Sacramento Kings at American Airlines Center.
Trying to right themselves after Monday's disappointing home loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the Mavs completely picked apart the Kings' defense while displaying the type of rhythm they've searched for all season.
While shooting 46.7 percent from the field and distributing 27 assists, the Mavs hustled into the All-Star break with a 23-29 record and with high hopes that a strong kick down the stretch will send them to the playoffs for the 13th straight season.
"We really believe coming into this game the most important thing was ball security and taking care of it, because when these guys [the Kings] get their hands on balls and they get out in transition, they're lethal," coach Rick Carlisle said. "The third quarter was kind of rough, but we hung in and were able to basically tie the quarter at the end -- which was good -- and the fourth [quarter] was a better one.
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Sacramento was "a tired team and we took advantage of it, so that's good."
In beating Sacramento for the 18th straight time in the regular season in Dallas, the Mavs seized control late in the third quarter behind sizzling shooting from 36-year-old Vince Carter.
After the Kings chopped an 18-point deficit to seven (73-66), Carter appeared to step into a time machine and dazzled the sellout crowd with his shooting.
In scoring 17 of the Mavs' final 21 points of the third quarter, Carter buried five 3-pointers in a span of 3:59, which helped the Mavs tote a 92-77 lead into the final period. Carter scored a game-high 26 points while making a season-high six 3-pointers in nine attempts.
"Vince has had a tremendous year," Carlisle said. "He's such an important guy for us and he's doing a lot of things in a lot of areas.
"It's not just the shot-making and playmaking. He's doing a lot of things defensively, rebounding, we don't talk much about because of some of the spectacular things he does at the other end."
Carter passed Larry Bird to become the 29th all-time leading scorer in NBA history.
"It speaks to how he's taken care of himself and longevity," Carlisle said of Carter. "You don't pass Larry Bird on the scoring list unless you've been at it a long time."
Carter played just 23 minutes and also became just the 11th player in NBA history to make at least 1,600 career 3-pointers.
"The rim looked like a lake," Carter said, "and there were a couple of times -- I think the last two shots -- I was wide open and I was like, 'Well, they left me open, so I'm going to shoot it.' And they ended up going in, so it was just a great feeling."
Besides Carter, the Mavs got 18 points and nine assists from Darren Collison, and 17 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals from Dirk Nowitzki.
Also for Dallas, rookie Jae Crowder scored 11 points and O.J. Mayo finished with 10 points.
The Mavs tied a season-high with 12 steals, turned 18 Sacramento turnovers into 22 points, and won for the sixth time this season by 20 or more points. The Mavs' bench outscored their Kings counterparts 64-25.
It all added up to a pleasant way for the Mavs to enter the All-Star break.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760