Already down center/forward Kristaps Porzingis, the Dallas Mavericks lost another big man – Maxi Kleber – very early in Sunday’s matinee game against the Sacramento Kings at American Airlines Center.

So what did the Mavs do to compensate for the absence of those two? And how did it affect their interior defense? They leaned on forwards Dorian Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock, and guards Frank Ntlinkina and Sterling Brown to add to what Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dwight Powell gave them during their 105-99 win over the Kings.Ntilikina was hot

In other words, the Mavs’ smalls came up big as Dallas improved to 4-2.

“I think all the smalls get excited because they all feel they get a chance to play,” coach Jason Kidd said. “Understanding that Sacramento is not a big team.

“So the smalls – Sterling (Brown) and those guys, Reggie, Frank – everybody is going to have to participate and help. And I thought being able to rebound the ball was something big for us being small out there.”

Finney-Smith collected 13 points, six rebounds and two steals, and Ntilikina came off the bench to pour in 12 points. Now in his first season with the Mavericks, Ntilikina said “energy” was the Mavs’ calling card after Kleber left the game for good with a strained back with 4:56 remaining in the first quarter after dunking the basketball.

“As soon as you see somebody from our team go down, the whole team feels like they’ve got even more energy for the teammates behind,” Ntilikina said. “So it was our job to give the team more energy.”

And that energy paved the way for the Mavs to break the curse of the Kings, who enjoyed a 3-0 sweep of the Mavs last season.

“I think we just, first and foremost, wanted to play a lot better to start the game no matter who was out there on the floor,” said Hardaway, who tallied 16 points. “Coach Kidd always talks about next man up.Bullock was balling tonight

“So in these situations like that throughout the course of the season, when one man’s down, the next guy — when his number is called — is just as ready as that guy that started. I think Reggie, whoever came in for Maxi, did a great job of just keeping that intensity and playing at both ends of the floor and we came out with the win.”

And at the end of the day, the Mavs knows who wins is all that matters.

Meanwhile, Kidd said he had no updates on Kleber, who went directly to the locker room after sustaining his injury.

“We don’t want to play like that all the time,” Kidd said, referring to the small lineup. “But understanding that sometimes in this league injuries happen and guys have to step up, and those smalls and mediums stepped up today.”

ANOTHER MISSED GAME BY PORZINGIS: Porzingis sat out his third straight game on Sunday with lower back tightness, and the Mavs aren’t sure if he’ll be available to play in Tuesday’s home game against the Miami Heat.

“Hopefully he feels better either today or tomorrow so he can go on Tuesday,” coach Jason Kidd said. “But it’s still day-to-day.”

In all four seasons since he tore his left anterior cruciate ligament on Feb. 6, 2018 while he was a member of the New York Knicks, Porzingis has suffered some type of injury or surgery. Is he just having buzzard’s luck?KP sat out his 3rd straight game

“I don’t know if it’s bad luck,” Kidd said. “He is 7-3. It’s just the cards are dealt, and you’ve got to deal with them.

“We want him to be healthy. When he was playing, he was playing great for us. Hopefully this is just one little small speed bump that we can overcome and get ready for him to come back and have the success that we have when he’s on the floor.”

Porzingis injured his back in last Tuesday’s home opener against the Houston Rockets. Asked if the injury has gotten worst or stayed relatively the same, Kidd said: “That’s out of my medical profession. I’m just here to report that he’s out and hopefully that he’s back here soon.”

DEFENSE WAS STOUT: The Kings entered Sunday’s game ranked in the Top 10 in the NBA in scoring at 111 points per game.

But the Mavs held them to 44.4 percent shooting from the field, 32.4 percent shooting from 3-point range, and 12 points below their scoring average.

“To hold a team that’s Top 10 under 100 points, that means you’re paying attention to detail on the defensive end, and they executed the game plan,” coach Jason Kidd said. “We paid attention to the details of trying to take the three and making it hard on those guys.”

The Mavs, in particular, made it hard on Harrison Barnes. The former Mavs forward came in averaging 25 points and wound up with just 15 points on 5-of-16 shooting.Jason Kidd wins again

“I said it before the game, Harrison Barnes is playing at a high level,” Kidd said. “And we just tried to make it tough on him today.”

Kings coach Luke Walton acknowledged that he wants to put more on Barnes’ plate.

“He had a great year for us last year, too,” Walton said. “We spend a lot of time talking about him really embracing doing more — expanding, being more aggressive, shooting any time. We want him taking between six-to-eight threes a game.  We really need that for our team to have some success.

“He’s done an unbelievable job of putting that into his game and getting his range even deeper. He’s a heckva player, he’s an extremely hard worker. It’s good to see him having a good start to the season.”

GAME-PLANNNG FOR DONCIC: Luke Walton said he and his coaching staff spent a lot of time game-planning for Mavs superstar point guard Luka Doncic.

“There’s not always a lot of great answers with the elite players in this league,” the Kings’ coach said. “Luka is so dangerous, because he’s such an incredible passer as well.

“He can score really when he wants, and he gets his teammates wide open looks. And he hits big shots. Our job is to just try to make life hard on him, and then know that he’s going to have big numbers at the end of the night. It’s just how hard we can make him work for it.”

Doncic punched the time clock for 35 minutes on Sunday and finished with 23 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists.Luka leads the way

CARLISLE’S MAVS VS. KIDD’S MAVS: Kings coach Luke Walton said it’s way too soon to make any comparisons between Jason Kidd’s Mavs and the Mavs ex-Mavs coach Rick Carlisle headed up over the previous 13 seasons.

“It’s still early, but Jason’s a phenomenal coach,” Walton said. “Clearly, as a player he was one of the great leaders of all time and one of the great point guards of all time. I’m not in their cooker room, but I’m sure that influence and just having him around every day is big for their group.

“With what they’re running, when you have somebody like Luka (Doncic), it’s just creating ways to make sure everyone is staying involved in creative ways to try to make the game easier for your best player. They’re running a couple of different options out of it, but a lot of stuff is running through Luka still.”

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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