DALLAS -- How it happened: At least the Mavericks can now say they can win without Lamar Odom. They won for the first time in eight games without the aloof forward, who has played his final game with the Mavs.
But let's not get carried away either. This win against the 14th-place Sacramento Kings, a squad with five road wins under its belt, was never easy, even during a fourth quarter that looked to have runaway written all over it. Yet, with 6:20 to go, the mistake-prone Kings had cut the Dallas lead to five, 92-87.
It certainly was an odd game in Kidd's return from a strained right groin. Kidd, for starters, played 22 minutes, all in the first three quarters, and he attacked about as aggressively as he has all season. He finished with seven points, seven assists and six rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki never found a rhythm once again (5-of-16 at Memphis on Saturday) and had 15 points on 4-of-14 shooting.
Six Mavs scored in double figures. Rodrigue Beaubois tied Dirk for the team lead with 15 points and Jason Terry had 13 off the bench as the Mavs' reserves scored 51 points. Brendan Haywood had 11 points and five rebounds in 17 minutes and Shawn Marion finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds, giving him 25 boards in the last two games.
And don't forget the boost Yi Jianlian gave the Mavs in the second quarter when things were a bit flat. The 7-footer splashed all four of his jumpers in a stretch of 5:34 to help the Mavs take a 57-50 lead to the locker room. Yi and Haywood led the Mavs with eight points apiece at the half.
Dallas' rebounding was a major theme from wire-to-wire. They had nine second-chance points after the first quarter when half of their 18 rebounds came on the offensive end. They doubled the Kings' scoring in that category, 20-10, and dominated the boards, 56-40.
The Kings were still shooting a pretty torrid 46.5 percent after three quarters, but Dallas held them to eight field goals in the fourth quarter. They had no real answer for intriguing young big man DeMarcus Cousins, who finished with 25 points on 11-of-21 shooting and 18 rebounds.
What it means: Dallas (32-26) began a crucial stretch of eight games in 12 days with a must-have victory after dropping three of their last four and two in a row. The win moved them into sole possession of seventh place and one-half game back of No. 6 Houston. The Mavs left immediately after the game for the West Coast where they will play four big ones, starting Thursday night at Golden State, then Friday at Portland, Sunday afternoon at the Los Angeles Lakers and finally Monday night at Utah.
Bold play of the game: With less than 50 seconds to go in the third quarter and the Mavs trying hard to further separate from the Kings, Vince Carter was determined to get to the rim after he had a bit of an embarrassing moment a couple minutes earlier, leaving his finger roll well short, only to catch it and get called for traveling. This time around, he'd get a highlight reel for flying. The 35-year-old drove baseline and posterized 7-foot Kings center Hassan Whiteside with a nasty tomahawk jam for an 81-74 lead.
Stat of the game: Marion's 14 rebounds were one shy of his season high, but his offensive boards eclipsed his previous season high of seven and was one shy of his career high of nine set back in November 2005 against Toronto.