The Sacramento kings gave the Denver Nuggets everything they could handle tonight, but came up short in the end, losing on the road by the final of 101-95.

This marked the 15th straight win for the Nuggets, who are headed to the playoffs riding a major league hot streak.  Six players scored in double-figures, led but Danilo Gallinari‘s 19, as the Nuggets improved to 49-22 on the season.

The Kings fought the good fight, but to beat a team like Denver, you have to play a flawless game and the Kings received  sub-par performances from plenty of their rotational players tonight.

Notes and Analysis

  • DeMarcus Cousins was unstoppable, scoring a game-high 24-points in loss.  The Kings starting center shot 10-for-16 from the field, grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked five shots, but he also racked up six of the Kings 14 turnovers in the six point loss.
  • Where in the world did Tyreke Evans go?  After playing extremely well of late, the multifaceted Evans scored just four points in 23 minutes for the Kings.  Andre Iguodala is a tough defender, but Sacramento needed more out of Evans.
  • John Salmons made another guest appearance for the Kings tonight.  The veteran wing is either hot or non-existent.  Not sure what to make of this phenomenon.  The Salmons Effect?  Salmons scored 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting from the floor and 4-for-8 from behind the line.
  • Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Thornton scored 10 points each, but they combined to shoot just 7-for-25 from the field.  Thomas has become one of the more reliable Kings in the second half of the season.  He added a game-high nine assists for Sacramento, but hit just two of his eight attempts from behind the arc.  When matched with Thornton’s 0-for-5 from deep, that 2-for-13 from 3-point land spelled disaster for the Kings.
  • Jason Thompson is sinking and he needs to start clawing his way back to the surface.  Six points and four rebounds in 26 minutes isn’t going to cut it for a starting NBA power forward.  Clearly he is struggling with the addition of Patrick Patterson, but it’s time to deal with the pressure and start commanding minutes again for Thompson.
  • Once again, hats off to Travis Outlaw.  This guy is buried deep on the Kings bench, but when his number is called, he has preformed very well.  Tonight, he got a surprise call and finished with eight points in eight minutes of play.  For those of you out there who bag on this guy, that is called professionalism.
  • Stat of the Night: The Kings shot just 9-for-17 from the free throw line tonight and lost by six points.  That’s got to burn.

Three answers to three questions pondered

1.  Can the Kings shock the Nuggets and end Denver’s 14-game winning streak?

Not a chance.  The Kings are playing better, but the Nuggets are so incredibly deep and versatile.  If they don’t have a match up advantage on the floor at a certain position, they go to their bench and find one.  This is an eclectic group of players and George Karl is a maestro.  Sacramento gave it a good run, but came up short in the end.

2.  Will Marcus Thornton light up the Nuggets with the long ball?

The 32-point Marcus Thornton from these two teams last meeting did not show up tonight.  Instead, we got the 0-for-5 from 3-point land, barely score in double-figures Marcus Thornton.  If the other guy showed up, the Kings would have won this game.

3.  Can the Kings keep a Nuggets reserve from scoring 20 or more points?

The Nuggets got 26 points out of their second unit tonight, led by JaVale McGee‘s 11 points.  You have to wonder if Cory Brewer’s game winner last time out didn’t give him a false impression of who he is as a player.  The defensive-minded wing scored two points on 1-for-8 shooting off the Nuggets bench, after scoring 29 points against the 76ers in Denver’s 101-100 win on Thursday.

Statistical support provided by NBA.com.