Road Reaction: Nuggets 119, Kings 116
Overtime heartbreak for the Sacramento Kings Monday night.
In the final second of regulation, Marcus Thornton fouled Arron Affalo as he took a desperation three at the buzzer. Afflalo calmly sank all three freebies, sending the game into an extra frame.
In overtime, it was Ty Lawson’s turn. With time expiring, the University of North Carolina product hit a huge three pointer from the left elbow, which sealed a 119-116 win for the Denver Nuggets.
Afflalo scored a career-high 32 points, but wasn’t the only Nugget to set a new-career standard. On his way to a 20-point-12-rebound effort, rookie Kenneth Faried hit seven-for-nine from the field and six-for-seven from the line. Lawson added 16 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds in the three-point victory.
Thornton will go down as the goat for the Kings. But before his late game foul, he led Sacramento with 27 points, hitting six-for-nine from behind the arc before fouling out. Tyreke Evans took over in the final five minutes, finishing with 27 points, four assists and five rebounds. John Salmons gave Kings head coach Keith Smart a big boost off the bench. The veteran wing contributed a solid 14 points and five assists in his new role as second-team point forward.
Notes and Analysis
- DeMarcus Cousins had one of his worst performances of the season, playing less than three minutes in the first half due to foul trouble. He finished with a meager five points and five rebounds in 23 minutes, but did add five assists as well.
- Speaking of assists, the Kings moved the ball extremely well, finishing with a season-high 28 dimes. Led by Cousins and Salmons, five Kings’ players had four or more assists.
- Second=year center Hassan Whiteside received the first substantial playing time of his young career. The big man out of Marshall impressed, scoring five points, grabbing seven rebounds and blocking two shots in 14 minutes. Whiteside was slightly anxious on the court, missing a couple of easy buckets and getting two illegal defense calls, but was solid overall. One of his two blocks came on a close out of a three-point shot attempt.
- After coming off the bench Sunday, Jason Thompson had a triumphant return to the starting line-up. JT finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists in 32 minutes. He also hit all three of his free throw attempts, which have been a struggle for him all season long.
- Giving credit where credit is due: Jimmer Fredette played exceptional defense on Lawson tonight. Jimmer finished with seven points in 17 minutes and appears to be forming nice chemistry with Salmons and Francisco Garcia off the bench.
- Garcia had a solid game as well, scoring 11 points and grabbing an uncharacteristic seven rebounds. Although he missed a game-tying three in overtime, Garcia went three-for-six from deep and is providing a spark with his shooting and aggressive play.
- Danilo Gallinari and Nene both made brief appearances for the Nuggets. Gallinari has missed substantial time with a left ankle sprain, while Nene has suffered from an injured calf. Gallinari looked rusty in his 17 minutes of action, but Nene ran the floor well for someone who suffered a lower-leg problem.
- Off the bench, Al Harrington had a quiet 14 points and nine rebounds and is always a tough match up for the Kings. Although it’s a small sample, the Nuggets had a +12 differential when Harrington was on the floor.
- Stat of the Night: The Kings have now lost four games in a row. This is their fifth-losing streak of three or more games this season. Sacramento gets a break in the schedule starting Wednesday night, when they begin a franchise-record, nine-game home stand against the New Orleans Hornets.