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Kings vs. Nuggets: THROW(N) UP

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Smoked like a beater,
running 'round in circles that
don't even round up.

Sacramento Kings at Denver Nuggets
Pepsi Center, Denver
6 p.m. Pacific on Comcast SportsNet California

The Kings blew a chance at stealing a win over a Grizzlies team missing Zach Randolph and with a limited Mike Conley; Sacramento got blown out in the third quarter as Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton combined for 14 points against Jeremy Pargo and Tony Allen. The Kings defense was bad, too, as John Salmons was crushed by Rudy Gay and Sam Young stretched the frontline out.

Thanks to being healthy, Denver is a more imposing offense with quick lead Ty Lawson, destroyer of the paint Nene and sharpshooters Arron Afflalo and Danilo Gallinari. But perhaps unsurprisingly (given the coach on the sideline), Denver's been a better defense than offense this season. The Nuggets are No. 5 early in defensive rating, allowing 96.5 points per 100 possessions.

How they've been doing it is odd: Denver is currently middle of the pack in shooting defense, but top-five in defensive rebounding, turnover creation and foul rate. They have a wing stopper in Afflalo and a solid defensive big man in Nene, plus role-playing defenders like Chris Andersen and Corey Brewer.

The other note about Denver that's a little crazy: despite that glimmering 4-2 record, the Nuggets have played the No. 4 most difficult schedule, according to Basketball-Reference. (The Kings are at No. 9.)

DeMarcus Cousins got plenty of minutes in his return to action on Tuesday in Memphis, and did what he's done all season: rebound the snot out of the ball, make some turnovers, miss some bunnies. He had eight rebounds Tuesday, and with five games played leads the entire NBA in total offensive rebounds and offensive rebounding rate (no small margin there). He's No. 4 in rebounds per game (behind Dwight Howard, Kevin Love and JaVale McGee) and No. 3 in total rebound rate (Howard and Love). It began to look Tuesday like the truly insane offensive rebounding is connected to the poor finishing at the rim, which is the cause of the poor field goal percentage.

Consider this: all five of Cousins' field goal attempts on Tuesday were putback attempts. Those are self-created shots, effort attempts created by the fact that Boogie is working extremely hard on the glass. Maybe some portion of those need to be tipped back out to the Kings' guards, if possible. Maybe on some Cousins needs to try to collect the ball instead of touching it back off the glass so he can draw a few more fouls. It's clearly not an efficient use of those second chances right now; even before the Memphis game, had Cousins at 20 percent on tip attempts this season, vs. 55 percent last year. But it's not as if he's jacking up bad shots. He's hustling in the paint and watching the ball fall off of the rim.

He needs a little luck, in my estimation. We'll see if that happens in Denver.

Game's at 6. We'll have game threads at 6 and 7:30. Let's go Kings!