NBA

Nuggets Outlast Kings In Back-And-Forth Affair

Feb 26, 2022, 9:04 PM | Updated: 9:04 pm
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 09: Domantas Sabonis #10 of the Sacramento Kings reacts after a t...
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Sacramento has lost four-straight games

Following an awful start to Saturday night’s game, the Sacramento Kings buckled down on the defensive end to give themselves a chance down the final stretch in Denver.

Tied at 110-110 with less than a minute to go, a costly turnover sealed Sacramento’s fate as Nuggets guard Monte Morris connected on a go-ahead triple to give Denver the lead for good as the Kings fell short by a final of 115-110 at Ball Arena.

With the loss, Sacramento has lost four-straight games and is now four games behind the 10th-seed Portland Trail Blazers with 20 games to go.

Denver picked up right where they left off on Thursday night as they seemingly couldn’t miss during the first quarter.

As a team, the Nuggets shot 63-percent from the field and 46-percent from three-point range as Aaron Gordon’s huge start (12 first-quarter points) helped lead Denver to a 38-30 lead after 12 minutes of play.

After falling behind 57-48 with just under two minutes remaining in the half, the Kings buckled down on the defensive end while the offense mounted an 11-2 run to tie things up at 59-59 at the break.

With Domantas Sabonis battling foul trouble early, De’Aaron Fox did a bit of everything in the first half, scoring 13 points to go along with four rebounds and six assists over 19 minutes.

Sacramento’s defensive intensity continued to impress during the third quarter as the Kings held the Nuggets in check for the second-consecutive period.

Successful closeouts, physical boxouts, and containment of the perimeter were seen from the defense as the improved effort was enough to keep the Kings neck-and-neck with the sixth-seeded Nuggets.

Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic picked up his fourth foul with just under two minutes to go in the third as the All-Star center battled against Sabonis in the post. Both Jokic and Gordon entered the fourth quarter with four fouls while Sacramento and Denver remained gridlocked at 85-85.

Old friend DeMarcus Cousins was the leading force being a 7-0 Nuggets run to open up the fourth to put the Kings in a 92-85 hole with 10:35 remaining.

Sacramento answered back to tie the game at 95-95 with 7:28 to go thanks to strong play from Sabonis and the defense. Things got chippy in the fourth as Cousins and Austin Rivers each picked up technical fouls in separate situations, setting the scene for an intense ending.

Both teams traded leads several times down the closing-stretch before Thursday night’s hero Will Barton drilled a triple to give the Nuggets a 110-107 lead with 1:40 remaining on the game clock.

Domantas Sabonis and the Kings evened things up at 110-110 with less than one minute remaining, but Monte Morris broke the hearts of Sacramento with a go-ahead three-pointer with 28.9 seconds left to put this one away.

Although Nikola Jokic missed both free throws with less than a minute to go, Sacramento was unable to capitalize on the offensive end during their next possession. Morris’ game-winning triple immediately followed a Kings turnover, bringing Saturday night’s game to an end on a disappointing note.

The defense was impressive for most of the second half, but the Kings once again fell apart in a late-game scenario, something that you just can’t do against a seasoned team like Denver.

For the second-straight game, the three-pointers also weren’t falling for Sacramento (nine-of-30) as Justin Holiday (four-of-eight) and Trey Lyles (two-of-three) made six of the team’s nine triples.

Even with the team’s unofficial big three (Fox, Sabonis, and Harrison Barnes) firing on all cylinders, the Nuggets were still just too much to handle down the stretch. And although there were some brow-raising calls in the closing minutes of the game, the Kings still had a chance to get out of Denver with a win.

Add Saturday’s contest to the list of games that Sacramento has seen fall right through its fingers this season.

Rounding Out The Box Score

Even while battling foul trouble, Domantas Sabonis nearly tallied a triple-double against the Nuggets.

Sabonis finished the night with 14 points, 16 rebounds, and 7 assists over 33 minutes. The two-time All-Star posted his 39th double-double of the year in the process–his fifth over his six games as a member of the Kings.

De’Aaron Fox topped the 20-point mark for the eighth-straight game on Saturday while picking up his second double-double of the season.

The 24-year-old scored 26 points on 10-of-19 shooting to go along with five rebounds and 10 assists over 40 minutes.

Harrison Barnes looked like his pre-All-Star-break self, finishing with 24 points on a perfect nine-of-nine shooting from the free-throw line.

Injury Report

  • Richaun Holmes was listed as questionable due to back soreness after sitting out on Thursday night. Kings head coach Alvin Gentry ruled the center out for a second-straight game prior to tip-off. Holmes is considered day-to-day.
  • Terence Davis will be re-evaluated in two-to-three months after undergoing successful surgery to repair a right wrist ECU tendon injury.

Coming Up

Sacramento will begin a very important week of games on Monday afternoon when they face the Oklahoma City Thunder at Paycom Center.

The Kings are 2-1 against the Thunder this season, with the most recent matchup between the two teams being a 113-103 win at Golden 1 Center behind 24 points from Harrison Barnes.

Following Monday’s game in Oklahoma City, the Kings will play a crucial back-to-back on Wednesday and Thursday against the San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Pelicans. Both teams are ahead of Sacramento in the Western Conference standings as they vie for the Play-In.

It all starts on Monday, with pregame coverage beginning at 3:00 pm PST on The Nick Cattles Show before a 5:00 pm PST tip-off from Oklahoma City.

Upcoming Sacramento Kings Schedule

  • February 28th @ Oklahoma City Thunder
  • March 2nd @ New Orleans Pelicans
  • March 3rd @ San Antonio Spurs
  • March 5th @ Dallas Mavericks
  • March 7 vs New York Knicks

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