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Nuggets 120 - Kings 115: No defense, no pace, no identity, no win

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In a shocking development, the Kings came close to a victory but couldn’t quite close it out.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Sacramento Kings were unable to overcome the altitude and exhaustion of playing in the second game of a back-to-back in Denver on Sunday night, despite some late game heroics from Nemanja Bjelica. Professor Bigshots led all scorers with 27 points on just 13 shots, Buddy Hield recorded a career-high 8 assists along with 20 points of his own, and De’Aaron Fox looked comfortable in his return with 18 points and 13 assists, but the Nuggets held on to secure their 23rd victory of the season.

The Kings have now lost a season-high seven games in a row, the 16th such streak since the playoff drought began, and they’ve now posted the ninth-worst start in that same 14 season timeframe. It’s ugly and getting uglier in Sacramento.

Game Overview

The first half was a back and forth affair that saw both teams push for multi-bucket leads with a few mini-runs. Richaun Holmes was the main force source of production for the Kings, as he scored 8 of Sacramento’s first 19 points, and our starting center ended the half leading all scores and rebounders with 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 assist. The Nuggets got a big boost from sophomore Michael Porter Jr., who put in 12 points and 5 boards of his own in his first career start. The Kings won the first quarter 32-31, but a 16-7 spurt in the middle of the second helped Denver to a five point lead heading into the locker room.

The second half saw the Kings get away from what worked for them offensively in the first 24 minutes. After leading the team in points in the first half, Richaun Holmes was allowed just one shot, which he made, in the final two quarters. Sacramento managed to pull within one or two possessions in several instances, including within three points with 17 second remaining, but godawful late game execution once again killed Luke Walton’s squad.

The Kings get less than 48 hours of rest before trying to break their losing streak against the 23-11 Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.

Game Notes

  • It turns out that maybe Harry Giles is worth a $3.9 million option. The forward put up 11 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 fouls, and a block in just under 17 minutes of game time
  • The Kings recorded just two fast break points
  • Despite De’Aaron Fox returning, the Kings played at a pace of 96, below their league-low average. It’s certainly possible that playing in Denver adversely affected that number.