Sacramento Kings face tough home test with visiting Nuggets

Dec 1, 2023, 11:27 PM | Updated: Dec 2, 2023, 11:31 am

Monte Morris #11 of the Denver Nuggets moves the ball against Harrison Barnes #40 of the Sacramento...

DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 26: Monte Morris #11 of the Denver Nuggets moves the ball against Harrison Barnes #40 of the Sacramento Kings at Ball Arena on February 26, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Isaiah Vazquez/Clarkson Creative/Getty Images)

(Photo by Isaiah Vazquez/Clarkson Creative/Getty Images)

The Denver Nuggets will seek their third straight win on the road when they play the second night of a back-to-back set Saturday against the Sacramento Kings.

It’s a matchup of two division winners from last season but they did not meet in the playoffs because the Kings were upset in the first round by the Golden State Warriors. The Nuggets, meanwhile, went on to win the NBA title.

The defending champs have looked the part at home this season, winning their first nine games. But their road efforts — at least recently — have been a different story.

The Nuggets had lost six of nine on the road before beating the Los Angeles Clippers 113-104 on Monday. Denver followed that with its most impressive effort to date away from home, beating the Phoenix Suns 119-111 on Friday.

According to Nikola Jokic, who had 21 points and 16 assists in Friday’s win, the Nuggets realize they still have work to do on the road.

“We had five games where we didn’t play well and we’re trying to get better,” he said of a recent five-game trip in which Denver went 1-4. “We’re undefeated at home. If you want to be a good team, you have to win on the road.”

Winning at Phoenix might have a lasting effect for Saturday’s matchup. Jokic and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope each played 35 minutes and Michael Porter Jr. played 37 minutes against the Suns.

Winning at Sacramento against a rested Kings team might seem difficult enough, but the Nuggets could be tasked with having to do it without Jamal Murray, who is dealing with a sprained right ankle, and Aaron Gordon, who has missed four straight games with a strained right heel.

Murray, who sat out against the Suns, might be a game-time decision.

While the Nuggets continue a three-game trip, the Kings will be playing their third of five straight at home.

The first two looked remarkably similar for about 24 minutes, with the Kings falling behind the Golden State Warriors by 24 points and the Los Angeles Clippers by 25.

Sacramento completed a comeback against Golden State on a game-winning hoop by Malik Monk, but couldn’t get over the hump the next night against the Clippers, falling 131-117.

Unlike the Nuggets, who have been shorthanded because of injuries, the Kings could get a player back after Keegan Murray returned to practice Friday. He has missed the last four games with a sore back.

“I want to get back to 100 percent so I can help my teammates,” Murray said after Friday’s workout. “It’s been frustrating with the way the games have been going.”

The Kings have lost two of the four games without Murray, and came within Monk’s heroics of dropping a third. De’Aaron Fox has been brilliant despite the recent results, averaging 32.8 points during Murray’s absence.

The Kings dropped two of three to the Nuggets last season, splitting games in Sacramento.

–Field Level Media

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