Nuggets 104, Kings 90
Five days of rust couldn’t derail the streaking Denver
Ty Lawson scored 20 points, J.R. Smith and Danilo Gallinari had
17 each and the Nuggets overcame a sluggish start to beat the
surging Sacramento Kings 104-90 on Wednesday night.
Al Harrington scored 15 and Nene had 12 points and 15 rebounds
for the Nuggets, who won their fourth straight and increased their
lead over Portland to 2 1/2 games for the fifth spot in the Western
Conference playoff race. The Trail Blazers lost at New Orleans on
It wasn’t a pretty win Wednesday. Denver enjoyed a five-day
break between games, but it seemed to take away the team’s
”We got used to playing against each other instead of playing
against everybody else,” Smith said. ”We were rusty out
The Nuggets are 13-4 since the blockbuster trade with New York
in large part because of their ability to share the ball. But, in
the first half, they had only seven assists and shot 37 percent
from the field.
It was apparent the layoff had an impact.
”Sometimes that can be a good thing if you’re struggling. But
we weren’t struggling, so it made us sluggish,” guard Raymond
Felton said of the break. ”We can’t complain about that now
because we have no days off.”
The Kings were on the second game of a back-to-back, but held
the lead for most of the game on the strength of their guards.
Marcus Thornton scored 27 and Tyreke Evans had 22 off the bench for
the Kings, whose four-game win streak was snapped.
Thornton is averaging 22.4 points a game since coming to the
Kings in a trade with New Orleans.
”Thornton is legit. He’s changed the way our team is,”
Sacramento coach Paul Westphal said.
The game was close for most of the second half before the
Nuggets took control in the fourth. With Denver leading 80-79,
Gallinari’s dunk, Lawson’s jumper and consecutive 3-pointers from
Gallinari and Felton gave Denver a 94-83 lead with 3:09 left.
”We were down the whole game and when we got the lead we were
determined to keep the lead,” Felton said.
Denver scored on eight of its last nine possessions.
”They started making plays and we kind of ran out of gas,”
Thornton said. ”We did play Phoenix last night. They are an up and
down team and this team is the same way.”
The Kings led 57-49 early in the third when the Nuggets rallied
to get even. A three-point play by Gallinari, a 3-pointer from
Wilson Chandler and a jumper by Lawson tied it. Harrington’s
fast-break dunk midway through the period gave Denver a 59-57 lead,
its first of the game.
”We’ve got to keep doing what we do well, and usually that
means Ty and Raymond pushing us and keep attacking the rim,”
Nuggets coach George Karl said. ”Their defense wore out a bit and
we got to the rim.”
The Nuggets lead the NBA in scoring at 107.7 points a game, but
sputtered to start Wednesday. They were 1 for 6 from the field and
the foul line and had just five points more than halfway through
the first quarter and trailed by 11.
The Nuggets rallied behind their bench, which gave them a spark
and got them within 32-31 early in the second quarter. Sacramento
responded with a 15-5 run, capped by Thornton’s fourth 3-pointer of
the half, to stretch the lead to 47-36.
The Kings led 51-41 at halftime.
Notes: Denver F Kenyon Martin left in the first quarter with the
flu and did not return. … The Nuggets have won 10 straight at
home. … Nuggets G Arron Afflalo sat out his fourth straight game
while nursing a strained left hamstring. He is expected to return
to the lineup when the Nuggets play the Kings in Sacramento on
Friday. … The Kings have more wins on the road (11) than they do
at home (10).