CK Press Box Report: Denver Nuggets 120, Sacramento Kings 113

by Jonathan Santiago & James Ham

Well, at least it wasn’t a laugher.

The Sacramento Kings have had a habit of letting the Denver Nuggets embarrass them the last few years.  Before tonight’s defeat, the Kings had lost by an average of 22.4 points in their last five meetings with the Nuggets.  That wasn’t the case Tuesday evening as Sacramento lost 120-113 to Denver at Sleep Train Arena.

The Nuggets have now won the last eight contests against the Kings, including the last four in the capital city.

The Kings are now 21-41 overall and 15-14 at home.  They play their second game in as many nights tomorrow when they make the I-80 bus trip to Oakland for a match-up against the Golden State Warriors.

– Jonathan Santiago

Notes and Analysis

  • Marcus Thornton continued his hot shooting of late, scoring a game-high 32 points on 12-for-21 from the field and 5-for-11 from long range.  With both DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans having quiet nights, Smart needed Thornton’s scoring to keep the Kings in the game.
  • Isaiah Thomas hung tough against a pair of stellar Nugget guards.  Thomas finished with 23 points and eight rebounds in 34 minutes of action.  With Aaron Brooks out of the picture, the Kings starting point guard is starting to find some consistency.
  • Jason Thompson was dominant early, scoring 14 of his 18 points on a perfect 7-for-7 shooting in the first quarter, but then his teammates forgot about him.  Thompson got in some foul trouble, but when a player finishes a game with 18 points on 9-for-11 shooting and grabs six rebounds, you have to find a way to get him more than 29 minutes.
  • After a very strong week, John Salmons lost his shooting touch in this game.  He finished with 11 points on 3-for-7 shooting from long range, but all three of his makes came in the fourth quarter.
  • Cousins had an atrocious offensive game, shooting just 1-for-12 from the field and 6-for-10 from the line.  Cousins did have 13 rebounds and a career-high five blocks in 27 minutes.  But he had one of those games where he let his emotions get the best of him.  Just ask the Nuggets, the officials or the fans he was yelling at during the game.
  • Kenneth Faried is a joy to watch play.  The guy never takes a second off and tonight was no exception.  He finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds in 21 minutes of foul-plagued play.
  • Ty Lawson and Andre Miller are an incredible point guard combination.  The duo combined for 40 points on 16-for-27 shooting and dished out 14 total assists.  There are stretches where Karl uses the tandem together and the results are impressive.  When they aren’t running on the break, they are breaking down the defense and finding Danilo Gallinari for the 3-ball.  Denver is a very versatile and deep team.
  • Stat of the Night:  After a very entertaining first half, the Nuggets outshot the Kings 64.3 percent to 44.7 percent after intermission.
– James Ham

Three answers to three questions pondered

1.  Will the Nuggets’ transition game dominate from the jump?

It did not.  In the first quarter, the Kings limited the Nuggets to just five points in transition.  Denver would go on to exceed their 19.4 season average by scoring 22 fastbreak points, however the Kings didn’t let the Nuggets’ uptempo game get out of hand.  Denver didn’t really get going until after the second half, where they scored 70 points and shot 64.3 percent from the field.

2.  Will Marcus Thornton continue to score at a high clip?

Thornton was once again an offensive wrecking ball for the Kings tonight.  The Kings sixth man chipped in 32 points, 20 of which were scored after halftime.  Tonight’s game was the fourth time in five outings that Thornton has scored 20 points or more.

3.  Can John Salmons continue his hot shooting from three-point distance?

Salmons cooled considerably in tonight’s loss against the Nuggets.  The veteran small forward  went 3-of-7 for a respectable 42 percent from beyond the arc on Tuesday.  However, that percentage is nowhere near the 68-percent clip the 33-year-old Salmons shot in his last five contests.  After scoring 22 against the Bobcats, he finished the game with just 11 points and five fouls.

– Jonathan Santiago

Quotes of the Game

Keith Smart‘s opening remarks:

You have to be perfect against a team like this.  I thought that we had some guys that played a great game.  We needed to stay within striking distance of this team to start the game off and I thought our guys managed to do that.  Our theme of the game was getting into the paint – transition-wise.  Regardless of if Denver played the night before, they’re still going to push the pace of this basketball game.  We kept the game manageable by the time that we got to halftime.  Denver is a good team…They had some guys make some big play and big shots.  We had a few too many defensive breakdowns where we gave up too many backdoor cuts.  That team can do big things and they have guys that can make plays.  Ty Lawson does a good job of keeping his dribble alive so that you have to overhelp on him.  I thought that we had a chance to pull this out, but we needed to be pretty close to perfect to do that.

Danilo Gallinari on addressing the officials on DeMarcus Cousins’ trash talk:

When you do trash talking, as long as you don’t disrespect, I’m cool with that.  But he was disrespecting me, thats why I approached him.  I never approached nobody who wants to trash talk to me.  I like that, I love that.  But that has to be in the respect area.  If you go out of the respect area, it doesn’t work with me so that’s why I wanted to talk to the ref.

Andre Miller on his fourth quarter:

They had a good run going.  They started hitting some three’s, started to find a rhythm but we were able to get some offense, force some turnovers and get some easy baskets down the stretch.

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