DALLAS -- The fate of the Dallas Mavericks began and ended with J.J. Barea.
It wasn't exactly the sort of plot twist the Kings needed at this juncture, with red-faced losses at New Orleans and San Antonio behind them and a face-off against reigning MVP Dirk Nowitzki & Co. in Dallas' home opener daunting enough without having to worry about a little-known point guard from Puerto Rico.
That, for the sake of Brad Miller, is where Barea hails from, as the Kings' center shook his head afterward while browsing the box score and said, "I don't even know what country he's from."
Barea -- who was filling in for injured starter Devin Harris -- scored a career-high 25 points as the Kings were routed once again Saturday night, falling 123-102 at American Airlines Center to slip to 0-3. Barea scored 12 points in a first quarter in which both teams shot 68 percent, then put away the Kings with back-to-back 3-pointers and a runner in the lane early in the fourth quarter that pushed the Mavs' lead to 26 points.
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His mere presence was surprise enough, as Jason Terry was expected to fill in for Harris. The output that included 9-for-11 shooting and 4 of 4 from 3-point range was another shocking revelation altogether.
The same Kings who scored just 23 first-half points at San Antonio on Friday had resolved at least some of their offensive issues, but defensive miscues and open looks left the latest concerns on the defensive end. The first-half struggles simply were in reverse this time, with Dallas hitting 26 of 38 shots and the Kings trailing 73-56 despite themselves shooting 64.5 percent.
"We haven't had any problems with our rotations up until tonight," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "I don't think that's who we are. Teams may knock down shots, but we haven't had problems with our rotations from the backline."
Mavericks forward Josh Howard -- who returned from a two-game suspension born of his mini-melee with Miller in an Oct. 16 exhibition game -- hit 10 of 17 shots for a team-high 27 points.
The Kings received career-high scoring from Francisco Garcia (23 points) and John Salmons (27) and a third consecutive 20-plus outing from Kevin Martin (28), with Theus opting to change his starting lineup in light of the season's rough start.
That lineup may still need more tweaking as the season goes on.
"Everybody knows we've got a long ways to work and this is just the first three of 82 games," Kings forward/center Mikki Moore said. "But a (butt)-whupping is a (butt)-whupping."