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Kings vs. Nuggets Preview: Sacramento looks to carry over momentum from big win over OKC

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Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Sacramento's big win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday was a relief for all of Sacramento.  Now the Kings look to carry that momentum into tonight's matchup against the Denver Nuggets and start this homestand off with two straight wins. Today's action tips off at 7:00 pm on Comcast SportsNet California and on KHTK 1140.

3 THINGS TO LOOK FOR

1.  Denver sent starting center Timofey Mozgov to Cleveland this week for two future first round picks.  Without Mozgov, and Javale McGee already out with injury, the Nuggets are relying heavily upon rookie Jusuf Nurkic and J.J. Hickson at Center.  Nurkic has shown a lot of promise in his rookie season, averaging 11.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.2 blocks, 1.4 assists and 1.4 steals in just 23 minutes a game over the last five games.  Still, DeMarcus Cousins should be able to feast on this Denver interior, much like he did when they were almost fully healthy back on November 5th.  In that game, Cousins had 30 points on 10-14 shooting in just 22 and a half minutes.  Sacramento will need more of the same tonight.

2. Denver has proven that they aren't as bad of a team as it looked early on in the season when they started out just 2-7.  However, most of the turnaround for them has come at home, where it's notoriously tough for other teams to play due to the high altitude and the fast pace which Denver plays.  They've gone just 5-12 on the road, and Sacramento needs to take advantage of that.

3. Sacramento's recently been running more sets to get Rudy Gay and Darren Collison open three pointers, and they've been knocking them down.  Perhaps my favorite is also the simplest;  Cousins sets up in the high post and does a little dribble hand-off to Rudy or Collison while also screening the defender to give them an open look.  Rudy is now at 38% from three for the year and Darren is at 39.3%, both good numbers.  In fact, over his last 10 games, Darren is shooting a ridiculous 54.8% on threes, and Wednesday's win over the Thunder saw him hit a career-high five.  Keep shooting guys.  This team needs it.

MATCHUP OF THE GAME

Ty Lawson vs. Darren Collison

The Nuggets don't necessarily have a "go-to" player, but Lawson is pretty close.  He's their leading scorer at 16.5 points a game and he's also among the league leaders in assists at 10.1 a game.  One area where Lawson has struggled this year is shooting, as he's down to just 34% from three and 43.3% overall, which is well below his career averages.  Still, the Kings can't afford to let Lawson get going.  It should be a good matchup for Collison, who can match Lawson's quickness and make him work on the other end as well.

PREGAME LIMERICK

Wendesday night's win was fun,
but let's hope it wasn't one and done.
Hickson's in town,
which will make me frown,
until Scott Moak announces we've won.

PREDICTION

Kings 126, Nuggets 108 as Jusuf Nurkic gets a tough dose of reality upon matching up with DeMarcus Cousins.