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Rapid Reaction: Mavs 103, Kings 100

DALLAS -- It wasn't pretty, but the Dallas Mavericks pulled out a desperately needed 103-100 victory Saturday night over the Sacramento Kings.

How it happened: The Mavs made it a heck of a lot harder than it should have been.

Dallas led by as many as 17 points in the second quarter before the Mavs started going through the motions. The Kings took their first lead of the game on a Rudy Gay putback with 7 minutes, 26 seconds remaining and went up by five midway through the fourth quarter.

The Mavs’ biggest points didn’t come from either of their co-closers, Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis. Shawn Marion, who was on the floor primarily to defend Gay (30 points), gave the Mavs the lead for good on a pair of free throws with 2:38 to go and hit a huge corner 3 on Dallas’ next possession.

Marion, who fought for an offensive rebound before getting fouled for the go-ahead free throws, finished with 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting. He was one of six Mavs to score in double figures.

Nowitzki led Dallas with 19 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. He was 9-of-10 from the line, including 4-of-4 in the final 80 seconds.

Ellis missed a pair of free throws with 6.8 seconds remaining, leaving the door cracked for the Kings. However, Travis Outlaw's potential game-tying 3-point attempt was way off on the final possession.

The Kings were missing 20-plus-points-per-game point guard Isaiah Thomas, who sat out due to a bruised right thigh.

What it means: The Mavs are still in ninth place in the Western Conference, but they’re only percentage points behind the Memphis Grizzlies and a half-game behind the seventh-place Phoenix Suns. The Mavs (44-30 overall) guaranteed that they would at least finish .500 on this eight-game homestand that wraps up Tuesday night against the Golden State Warriors. The Kings fell to 25-48.

Play of the game: Vince Carter turned the corner on DeMarcus Cousins, got in the lane and turned back the clock on a double-clutch, two-hand throwdown on the other side of the rim. The vintage Vinsanity moment stretched the Mavs’ lead to 12 with a little more than four minutes remaining in the first half.

Stat of the night: The Mavs have won 20 consecutive home games against Sacramento. The Kings’ last win at the American Airlines Center was Feb. 27, 2003.