SACRAMENTO – On Wednesday night in Portland, the second quarter was the trouble spot that eventually did in the Dallas Mavericks. On Thursday night in Sacramento, it was the third quarter.

The Sacramento Kings stretched a two-point halftime lead to 15 midway through the third quarter and went on to upend the Mavs, 116-100, before a sellout crowd of 17,583 at the Golden 1 Center. It was the 13th loss in the last 15 games for the Mavs and dropped their record to 28-44.

Actually, the Mavs were sticking closely to the Kings. Dallas led 29-27 after the first quarter and were only behind, 53-51, at intermission. Then came that disastrous third quarter explosion by Sacramento.

“The pace and rebounding was a big problem,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We ended up getting beat on the boards by 15 (58-43), and that’s too many.

“At halftime we were keeping things reasonable. I thought we were getting a lot of good shots, we were getting the pace of the game more in our favor. In the second half they picked it up and we didn’t have good answers.”

In particular, the Mavs didn’t have any good answers for Buddy Hield and rookie Marvin Bagley III. Hield tallied 19 of his 29 points in the second half and Bagley added 14 of his 22 points after halftime.

That one-two punch knocked out the Mavs and played a major role in Dallas’ inability to get no closer than six points – 87-81 with 10:38 left in the game – during the entire fourth quarter. After that, the Kings mounted a 29-16 run and roared ahead, 116-97, with 2:04 to go in the game.

“Early in the third (quarter) was a problem,” Carlisle said. “Every time we’d make a run to get it to seven or eight, they hit a three or make a play.

“They’re a good team. They’re dynamic and fast, they shoot it, they rebound it. We’ve got to be awful good, and we weren’t good enough.”

The Kings kept rookie Luka Doncic bottled up most of the night, limiting him to just 13 points on 4-of-19 shots. Although Doncic added 13 rebounds, he was never that explosive player the Mavs have become accustomed to seeing this season.

“Everybody is loading up on him, so this is nothing new,” Carlisle said. “We’ve seen a lot of this.

“He’s got to keep attacking, making reads, seeing when double-teams are there and the right play is to advance the ball or hit a guy who’s coming up from the corner or something like that, but it’s tough.”

It was only the third time Doncic has scored less than 15 points in his past 24 games.

“They have big defenders and I think we just had a really bad game, especially me,” Doncic said. “They have amazing players.

“They’re a young team and they have some really good talent.  Every time I have some free days I really enjoy watching them. They play with energy, they play fast and they’re just a great young team.”

The Mavs played without guard Tim Hardaway Jr., who found out Thursday that he’ll be sidelined for the remainder of the season with a left tibia stress reaction. And the Mavs sure could have used Hardaway, who has averaged 15.5 points since he was acquired by Dallas in a Jan. 31 trade with the New York Knicks.

“You miss another alpha scorer,” Carlisle said. “The guy plays with an attitude at both ends.

“He’s done, so we’re not going to see him. We need to get his leg right, and that’s the most important thing right now with him.”

Former Kings player Justin Jackson started in Hardaway’s place and contributed 11 of his 19 points in the first quarter.

“It was cool man, just to come back here and play against some of my old buddies,” said Jackson, who the Kings traded to the Mavs on Feb. 6. “I think I did alright.”

Jackson was 9-of-16 from the field and admitted that one of his biggest problems on Thursday was finding the visitor’s locker room.

“I didn’t even know where it was,” Jackson said. “As I was walking in somebody had to show me which way to go.”

Other than Jackson and Doncic, the Mavs received solid contributions from Dwight Powell (14 points, five assists), Ryan Broekhoff (13 points, 17 minutes) and Jalen Brunson (10 points). Meanwhile, former Mavs forward Harrison Barnes scored 16 points on 5-of-10 shots, and De’Aaron Fox finished with 15 points, nine assists and four blocks.

“You turn the ball over and they’re on their horses and they’re tough,” said Dirk Nowitzki, who had three points in 13 minutes. “They’re pushing it down your throat.”

Unfortunately for the Mavs, they couldn’t contain the Kings, who outscored Dallas in fast break points, 31-6. That, too, didn’t bode well for the Mavs in the end.

NOTES: The Sacramento Kings had the second pick in last summer’s NBA Draft, and there was major debate on whether they should have used it to draft Luka Doncic. Instead, after Phoenix chose Deandre Ayton No. 1 overall, the Kings chose Marvin Bagley III with the second pick, and the Atlanta Hawks drafted Doncic third overall and immediately traded him to the Mavs. Considering Doncic will likely win this year’s Rookie of the Year award, did the Kings make the right move in drafting Bagley over Doncic? Kings coach Dave Joerger said: “Mostly, I think, you look at, especially high picks, to me just take the best player you can get. And I think we got the best player (in Bagley). I think the sky’s the limit for Marvin and I don’t know how high Luka’s deal is. I think he’s had a terrific season and I’ve enjoyed watching him, and we’re fired up about our guy (Bagley).”. .Almost every stop the Mavs have made in recent months, media types asked coach Rick Carlisle about forward Dirk Nowitzki and his impact on the NBA. “He’s one of the great ambassadors and certainly one of the Top 10 or 15 greatest players in history if you look at all of his contributions,” Carlisle said prior to Thursday’s Mavs-Kings game. “The fact that he’s won a championship, been a Finals MVP, been a 14-time All-Star and a league MVP, and factor in the longevity, particularly with one team, all that stuff is an amazing accomplishment.” The Kings paid tribute to Nowitzki prior to Thursday’s game by showing a video of some of his greatest plays on the Jumbotron. Nowitzki then received a thunderous ovation during pre-game warmups. “We’ve gotten to know Dirk the person every day, myself for 11 straight years,” Carlisle said. “You’re talking about a person with integrity and a person that as a basketball player and as a teammate that’s just second to none. There may be equals, but there’s none better.”. .Kings coach Dave Joerger said he’s “a big fan” of Mavs forward Justin Jackson. “He’s a high quality, high character human being, very steady,” Joerger said. “He’s a good hard worker, great person, makes open shots, good cutter, can defend.” Joerger should know. He was Jackson’s only NBA coach until the Kings traded him and Zach Randolph to the Mavs on Feb. 6 for Harrison Barnes. “He’s just a high quality person to have with our group as we were bringing up a lot of young guys at the same time,” Joerger said. “His maturity level is pretty high for his age. And he’s a terrific guy to have in the locker room.” Jackson will turn 24 on Mar. 28.

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