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Kings 106, Nuggets 98: The Young Guns respond

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Against a playoff team and without two of their veteran leaders, the Kings youth put forth a strong effort from start to finish.

Kimani Okearah

Boy, did the Kings need this one. After three straight humiliating defeats at home, it would have been extremely disappointing if the team had come out after three days off and laid another egg. Instead, they put together a very solid game on both ends of the floor despite playing without George Hill or Zach Randolph, and pretty much controlled this game from start to finish.

With Hill and Randolph out, Coach Dave Joerger went with an all youth starting lineup. The only rookie to come off the bench tonight was Bogdan Bogdanovic. More importantly, the young guys did well. The only Kings with a negative +/- were Vince Carter and Garrett Temple, and in Temple’s case at least it was due to some poor shooting and playing out of position at Point Guard by necessity with Hill and Frank Mason out.

The Kings came out with intensity early and got stops and turnovers. Denver had three players with five turnovers each and finished with 25 as a team compared to just 20 assists. Willie Cauley-Stein had 7 steals by himself, to go along with 17 points on a very efficient 8-12 from the field. The Kings themselves took great care of the ball, only turning it over 9 times.

De’Aaron Fox had one of the best games of his young career, leading the Kings in scoring with 18 points but also dishing out 7 assists. Most importantly, he was aggressive in attacking the basket and got to the line 8 times. The Kings have been terrible at getting to the line this season, and if De’Aaron can do that more often, that would be a big boon to Sacramento’s offense.

The Kings aren’t going to play this well every night, but as long as the effort is consistent, that’s all we can ask for. Flashes of potential like this make rebuilding seasons worth it, and hopefully in the long run those flashes are here to stay.

For the opponent’s perspective, visit Denver Stiffs.