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Kings-Mavericks Preview

A strategic tweak has opened things up offensively for the Dallas Mavericks, who are looking to continue a late-season playoff push during this critical six-game homestand.

The defensively challenged Sacramento Kings are just trying to remain in the chase.

With Rajon Rondo hopeful to play in Dallas for the first time since a contentious split, the Mavericks seek their longest winning streak since late December on Thursday night when they try to extend the NBA's second-longest run at home versus an opponent.

Since averaging 91.8 points on 41.2 percent shooting during a five-game stretch from Jan. 29-Feb. 5 that culminated in three straight defeats, Dallas (33-28) has turned things around by scoring 117.5 per game and shooting 47.6 percent over its last eight.

"We made an easy adjustment, and mainly it was me," center Zaza Pachulia explained. "It's with the spacing. Don't block or run closer to the shooters and the penetrators."

The Mavericks rank among the NBA's leaders with a 39.4 3-point percentage since Feb. 6.

Wesley Matthews had 21 points to lead five players with at least 17 on Tuesday when they shot a season-high 55.8 percent, including 9 for 19 from long range, in a 121-108 home win over Orlando.

Chandler Parsons, who scored 17, has hit 52.1 percent from deep over his last eight games.

Dallas took over sole possession of sixth place in the Western Conference with Portland's loss Wednesday. The club appears to have a good opportunity to continue its surge and close out the homestand with its first four-game win streak since Dec. 23-30.

The Kings (24-35) have fallen five games out of a playoff spot after dropping four in a row. They've been porous defensively, allowing an average of 115.8 points during a 4-12 stretch.

Sacramento played better at that end Wednesday when DeMarcus Cousins had 18 points and 16 rebounds and Rondo added 17 assists in a 104-98 loss to Memphis to open a four-game trip.

"We just have to be aware and show urgency from the beginning of the game," Cousins said, "and not when somebody lights a flame under our (butts)."

Coach George Karl said he hopes Rondo can play after tweaking his ankle in the fourth quarter. The point guard was acquired by the Mavericks in a trade with Boston last season and had a tumultuous 46-game stint that included clashes with coach Rick Carlisle.

The relationship ended when Carlisle said Rondo had a back injury and wouldn't play again two games into a five-game playoff loss to Houston in the first round last April.

Rondo avoided pregame boos by sneaking to the bench during Dallas introductions Jan. 5 when Deron Williams had 25 points and hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer in the second overtime to give Dallas a 117-116 victory.

The Mavericks escaped with their 22nd consecutive home win in the series, which is second only to San Antonio's 32 straight against Golden State.

Cousins led Sacramento with 35 points and 17 rebounds in the January defeat. Rudy Gay added 31 points but now could be out for a third straight game with a strained shoulder.

Cousins is averaging 30.3 points and 13.3 rebounds in his last four versus Dallas. The two-time All-Star led the way with 31 points in a 112-98 home victory Nov. 30.

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