(Sports Network) - The streaking Dallas Mavericks shoot for their ninth consecutive victory tonight when they wrap up a brief, two-game road trip in California's capital against the hapless Sacramento Kings.
Dirk Nowitzki made 12-of-18 shots from the floor en route to 26 points on Friday, as the Mavs used a big second half to take down the Utah Jazz, 93-81, at EnergySolutions Arena.
Nowitzki also pulled down six rebounds for the Mavericks, who are a game behind Southwest Division rival San Antonio for the best record in the NBA. Caron Butler and Jason Kidd added 16 and 15 points, respectively. Kidd also dished out seven assists for Dallas, which improved to 7-1 away from Big D this season.
The Mavericks outscored Utah, 54-38, in the second half.
"I thought we played well," Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle said. "The first half we were a bit sluggish, thought we let their activity get to us a little bit, and the second half we just played with a lot more attitude, but you have to here. So it's a great win for us. We don't have much time to relax, we got to go to Sacramento and play tomorrow."
After tonight's contest, the Mavs, who have beaten Sacramento six straight times, will begin a lengthy six-game homestand.
The Kings, meanwhile, lost their sixth straight contest in Los Angeles last night when the Lakers snapped their worst losing streak in three years with a 113-80 rout of Sacramento.
Kobe Bryant scored a game-high 22 points and Lamar Odom and Paul Gasol both finished with 16 points as Los Angeles halted a four-game slide.
Jason Thompson scored 19 and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Kings, who have dropped 12 of 13 overall. Tyreke Evans added 15 points in the loss and Pooh Jeter scored 11, all in the fourth quarter.
"There is a lot going on right now, and it's frustrating," Evans said. "We have been losing. Nobody in here wants to lose on purpose. We've just got to go out there and find a way. It starts with us."