Mavericks’ Dorian Finney-Smith’s season-high 17 lead Mavs past Kings 99-79

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DALLAS (AP) — Even after scoring a season high in points, Dorian Finney-Smith wanted to talk about his defense.

The rookie had 17 points, leading six Dallas players in double figures as the Mavericks beat the Sacramento Kings 99-79 Sunday.

The Mavericks, who lost to Sacramento by 31 points at home 11 days ago, started fast. They made 11 of their first 15 shots and never trailed.

Later, some of his teammates teased him for passing up open shots.

“When I get a hand on a ball or a tip, it gets me going,” Finney-Smith said. “I try not to lose focus on what I bring to the table, and that’s defense. If I’m making shots, that’s a plus.”

Deron Williams, Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews each scored 15 for Dallas.

DeMarcus Cousins scored 33 for Sacramento. The Kings were minus second-leading scorer Rudy Gay, who missed his third consecutive game because of a strained right hip flexor.

A 10-0 Mavericks run early in the second quarter opened a 38-26 lead and the Kings never got closer than nine for the remainder of the game.

“We’ve got to come out and be the aggressor, that’s just plain and simple,” Cousins said. “We can’t get off to slow starts. We can’t let a team gain confidence. We’ve got to be the aggressors every night.”

It was barely 30 degrees in Dallas and the start time was moved up three hours to 3 p.m. – that avoided a conflict with the Cowboys, whose home game against Tampa Bay was originally scheduled for the daytime and later switched to night.

Following a 120-89 home loss to the Kings on Dec. 7, the Mavericks called a team meeting. They’ve won three of four at home since then and are 3-3 overall.

“We remember (the loss), but the biggest thing is that our demeanor has to be like this every night,” Matthews said.

TIP-INS

Kings: Cousins had 23 of Sacramento’s 44 points in the first half. … Ty Lawson was the only other Sacramento player in double figures, with 10 points.

Mavericks: The Kings scored just 14 points in the third quarter, a season low for a Mavericks opponent. … Williams had seven assists and passed current Dallas television analyst Derek Harper for 21st place on the NBA’s all-time assists list with 6,584.

HARRIS A HERO

Devin Harris had a season-high 14 points and seven rebounds for the Mavericks. He made a three-point play and a four-point play to cap a 12-2 Dallas run that gave the Mavs a 76-56 lead with 2:33 left in the third quarter.

Harris had missed the team’s first 16 games with a sprained right big toe.

“When he feels good physically, he moves with joy out there,” coach Rick Carlisle said.

LET IT BEE

Kings coach Dave Joerger called for a truce in an ongoing spat between Cousins and the Sacramento Bee newspaper. Cousins recently confronted a Bee writer after a column that referenced the arrest of the 6-foot-11 star’s brother.

“This guy is the face of our franchise,” Joerger said. “He’s done and said some things that he wishes he could do over. He has improved.”

“I’m not justifying anything that he’s done. What he did was excessive. But enough is enough,” he said.

TRIBUTE TO SAGER

The Mavericks joined the list of NBA teams to hold a moment of silence before their game in honor of TNT broadcaster Craig Sager, who died Thursday. Team owner Mark Cuban remembered Sager fondly before the game.

“Smiles are underrated,” Cuban said. “Nice is underrated. Getting people to smile every time – that’s something not a lot of people have been able to accomplish.”

 

NBA makes it official, moves up free agency six hours to 6 p.m. June 30 (Eastern)

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I’d like to think this means we’ll all be able to go to bed at a reasonable hour on June 30. I also know better.

There is a frenzy of activity right as free agency opens (Tampering? There is no tampering in the NBA…), which traditionally has been as the clock turns to July 1 in New York, right at midnight. Things got so active that a lot of agents and players made sure they were in Los Angeles, even if they didn’t live there in the offseason, just so things started at the more reasonable hour of 9 p.m.

Now the NBA has made the rumors official: Free agency will begin at 6 p.m. Eastern on June 30. Six hours earlier than before.

This was done as an agreement between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association.

This is going to be a wild July with a lot of big-name free agents — Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler — and maybe a third of the players in the league on the market, plus there are a lot more teams with cap space to spend this season. It’s going to be a frenzy.

Now we know what time the wild times start.

Why does Kevin Durant respond on social media? “I’m qualified to talk about basketball”

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Every NBA player gets ripped on social media, even the guys who are not on social media. Most of the time players just ignore it, the way they ignore fans yelling stuff courtside or distant family asking them for money.

Kevin Durant, however, gets into it sometimes, even with national media members (and even had a burner account). Which always becomes a thing.

Why? Why not just ignore it? From Durant himself at practice Friday, via NBC Sports Bay Area.

“Because I have social media,” Durant said Friday… “I mean, I’m a human being with a social media account. I could see if I ventured off into like politics, culinary arts or music and gave my input, but I’m sticking to something that I know. You know what I’m saying? This is all I know. I’m actually talking about stuff that I know. I’m qualified to talk about basketball.

“So when I respond to something, especially if it’s about me personally, of course I’m going to tell you if you wrong about it. When I’m on the training table getting treatment on my calf and I see a tweet that come by and I disagree — I don’t talk to people because I’m worried about what they say, it’s just that I’m interested. So if you talking about in-game or the NBA Finals, they’re the same to me, you know what I’m saying?”

Durant seems to have more time on hands to get into these spats while he is out injured. Which likely will last into the start of the NBA Finals.

Does this mean the Drake/Durant beef is inevitable?

LeBron likes Instagram of Kyrie Irving in Lakers jersey, Internet goes berserk

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The Lakers landing Kyrie Irving in free agency this summer might be their best realistic option. It’s far, far from a lock — the Knicks, and yes Celtics, will make their pitch, too — but reuniting the pair that won a title in Cleveland is on the Lakers’ radar. (Insert your own, “you know who should coach this team” Tyronn Lue joke here.)

Fueling the speculation, LeBron James and Irving were seen hanging out together at a club in Los Angeles recently. Then Friday, this happened: Cuffthelegend posted this on Instagram and LeBron liked it.

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I like how this feels

A post shared by Savage Season 365 (@cuffsthelegend) on

(For the record, Cuffthelegend gets some stuff right, he’s not a guy who posts stuff out of nowhere.)

Of course, NBA Twitter and the web responded to this in its usual measured, thoughtful way. Some Lakers fans think the deal is done, others mock the idea altogether.

Two thoughts on Irving and the Lakers:

• Multiple reports say Irving is open to it. Irving also has a strong relationship with Kevin Durant, and Boston still plans to trade for Anthony Davis and then try to re-sign Irving (even if Boston fans are done with Kyrie). The only person who knows which way Irving is leaning right now is Irving, and there’s a good chance he changes his mind in the next five weeks anyway.

• If the Lakers are going to land a star free agent this summer, it will be because LeBron was an active recruiter. These elite players have options, and the Laker front office is not inspiring confidence of late, it will be on LeBron to win guys over.

 

Jeremy Lin: Milwaukee security guard asked for my pass to Raptors team bus

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Jeremy Lin has discussed people not believing he plays in the NBA.

It apparently still happens.

Lin, whose Raptors are playing the Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals, via Bill Michaels Sports Talk Network:

After Game 2 in Milwaukee, I was trying to get to the team bus and one of the dudes in the Milwaukee arena just screams at me. He’s like, “Where do you think you’re going?!” And I’m like, “Uh, I’m trying to get to the team bus.” He’s like, “What?! Where’s your pass?” I was like, “I don’t have a pass. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have a pass.”

This happens in a lot of arenas, so I just kind of go with the flow.

It’s a fine line. Lin shouldn’t be profiled as a non-athlete because he’s Asian-American. Arena staffers should keep everyone safe by stopping unauthorized people.