Well, safe to say whatever good feelings the Sacramento Kings had after the win against the Thunder is gone. The Denver Nuggets came in and ran roughshod all over the Kings defense all game, lighting up the scoreboard in every quarter. The Kings could not keep up with the Nuggets, especially in the third where the Nuggets exploded to a 19 point lead they never relinquished, ending the game with a deceptive score of 118-108.
DeMarcus Cousins had another monster statline, notching 32 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 blocks and 2 steals, but it was a blemished game. Whether it was by the coach's will or the player's, Cousins was hanging out on the perimeter all game long and took several really bad shots from the area. Not only did it keep Cousins in a zone where he is not as effective as opposed to the low post where he was double teamed on the catch and where he could work against a depleted Nuggets interior. Cousins only shot 11/24 from the field and had seven turnovers on the night.
The Kings got nice games offensively from a variety of players. Rudy Gay scored with ease all game long with 22 points on 9/15 shooting, but was largely forgotten in that miserable third quarter. Darren Collison added 15 points and 7 assists, most of that coming in the first half. Nik Stauskas also had one of his best games as a pro with 13 points off the bench on efficient shooting.
But really, it wasn't the offense that was the issue. The Kings' intensity was sorely lacking all game night. The Nuggets were getting to every loose ball, they outrebounded the Kings on the night, and pushed the ball in transition to create easy looks and mismatches. It was comical to watch Nugget big men go over and around the Kings for rebounds and loose balls at times. Even after rebounds were secured, the Nuggets at least three or four times knocked the ball loose from the rebounder and created extra possessions. The defense completely fell apart, both in transition and in the half court; the Nuggets shot 55% from the field, dished 27 assists and scored 58 points in the paint. Ty Lawson and Jusuf Nurkic were both devastating, which is disappointing because they lined up against the Kings' best defenders (Cousins and Collison).
The life is slipping out of the season rapidly. It'll be interesting to see how engaged the team will be given that the playoffs are about as likely as Ramon Sessions making a floater. The effort level and focus was exceedingly poor tonight, and if the Kings want to make progress on the season they will have to play with far more urgency. The Kings next play against the Cavaliers on Sunday.
For the opponent's perspective, visit Denver Stiffs