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Nuggets Shoot Down Kings 104-86

The Sacramento Kings lost their first game of 2011 104-86 to the Denver Nuggets. Chauncey Billups led the Nuggets with 22, and center Nene had 16 points (most of them in the first eight minutes of the game) and 14 rebounds. The Kings were led in the scoring ledger by Jason Thompson (17) and DeMarcus Cousins (16) as the Kings' starting big men combined to shoot an excellent 15-22 (68 percent). But the rest of Sacramento's roster shot just 23 of 68 (33.8 percent).

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The glass was dominated by the Nuggets. The Kings grabbed just 13.5 percent of their (many) offensive rebound opportunities, a season low. Sacramento allowed Denver to grab 31.7 percent of its own misses, marking Sacramento's seventh worst defensive rebounding performance of the season. Cousins had eight rebounds (three on offense) in 28 minutes, and Thompson had seven in 27 minutes, which are both passable but not great. But Carl Landry had three in 23 minutes, and new starting small forward had just three in 23 minutes. Darnell Jackson and Samuel Dalembert combined by zero in 16 minutes off the bench.

According to HoopData, the Kings took 28 shots from 16-23 feet. They made six of them, for a horrible clip of 21.5 percent. Beno Udrih, who typically makes a decent amount of those, shot 0-4 in that range on his way to a bad 2-10 night. Cousins, Landry and Dalembert all went 1-3 from the range; when Samuel Dalembert is taking three long two-pointers in seven minutes of action, that is a cause for a "SMH." The bad jump-shooting (the Kings went 4-15 on threes, too) wasted the excellent performance in the paint against a strong shotblocking team. Cousins and Thompson were each perfect from within five feet (a combined 9-9), and Evans was 4-6 at the rim. Landry also shot well inside, going 4-5. But the Kings took more shots from outside than inside.

The Kings play tonight against the light rebounding, low defense Phoenix Suns. We'll see if the story changes.