For those Kings fans still clinging on to the dream of seeing Sacramento break their decade-long playoff drought, tonight wasn’t a good night. The Kings dropped their fifth straight game and gave up a game to the team currently in the 8th spot in the Western Conference playoff race.
But who are we kidding. The Kings aren’t playing for the playoffs anymore. That was made clear when they traded DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings are 1-5 since, and who knows when the next time will be that the Kings taste victory. With tonight’s results, including their own, the Kings are now in sole command of the 7th worst record in the NBA and New Orleans (whose pick they own) sits at 6th.
Sacramento didn’t start off like a team that thought they had no chance. For much of the first half, the Kings kept the game pretty close. Sacramento only trailed by 7 going into halftime after Darren Collison, who scored a team-high 17 points, closed out the half with two beautiful plays in a row to cut Denver’s lead. But the Kings clearly felt the effects of the back-to-back and quickly fell out of contention in the third quarter.
Wilson Chandler was the hot hand for Denver tonight. Chandler took advantage of the Kings lack of size and strength on the wing and had a career night. He scored 16 of his career-high 36 points in the 1st quarter alone and also managed to grab 12 rebounds in 42 minutes. The only Denver starter not to score in double digits was Jameer Nelson, who finished with 6 points and 6 assists. Denver won despite being out with Kenneth Faried and rising star Nikola Jokic.
Sacramento was led by Darren Collison’s 17 points. In each game since Cousins’ absence, the Kings have only registered one player with 20 points or more in that span (Willie Cauley-Stein’s 29 in the first game after the trade). Seven Kings finished in double digits however. Kosta Koufos had another double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Buddy Hield chipped in 14 to lead the bench. Rookie Skal Labissiere played nearly 20 minutes and had a solid game with 10 points and 6 rebounds.
This would have been a rough game for the Kings no matter the circumstances. Playing in Denver on the second night of a back to back (not even discounting for the fact that yesterday’s game went into overtime) is a tough prospect for anyone. The Kings couldn’t close the deal, and Michael Malone got his first victory against his former team.
It won’t get much easier coming up either, as Sacramento heads to San Antonio on Wednesday before coming back for a home and home back-to-back against Washington and these same Denver Nuggets.
The tank rolls on.
- Buddy’s step back move is already phenomenal. He really needs to do a better job taking care of the ball however, especially when he’s being pressured by the defense.
- Skal’s just fun to watch, even when he’s making mistakes. He’s always hustling, and his offensive repertoire is already fairly advanced for someone so young. I’m more excited for his potential development than perhaps anyone else on this team.
- Ben McLemore got 13 minutes of action after a DNP-CD yesterday. He did not play well, only taking two shots and making one. Ben’s primary strength this year has been as a shooter. He needs to find ways to contribute when he isn’t shooting the ball.
- Watching Tyreke play, it’s like he never left with how often he resorts to 1-on-5 ball. I even think he’s lost a step already, likely after all the injuries he’s endured since his stellar rookie season.
- I don’t think anybody in the NBA uses the hook shot more than Kosta Koufos. Is there a way to track this? I need to know for sure. He’s only got one move, but it’s so effective.
For the opponent’s perspective, visit Denver Stiffs.