Most teams that play the Denver Nuggets expect to walk away with a few bumps and bruises. The Sacramento Kings suffered more than many Friday night, and walked away with a frustrating loss to boot.
The Kings were less than 48 hours removed from Wednesday’s 104-90 loss in Denver. Their home arena did nothing to cure those ills, as they were undone by a combination of untimely turnovers and ghastly shooting.
They went a barely-believable 2-21 from three-point range, highlighted by a combined 0-11 from Marcus Thornton and Beno Udrih. They were little better from 15 feet, hitting only 22 of their 34 free throw attempts.
Denver’s physical 10-man rotation spent much of the game bodying up to the Kings and daring the officials to make calls. DeMarcus Cousins in particular could have benefited from tighter officiating; he attempted six free throws but could have shot twice as many if the referees hadn’t swallowed their whistles on several of his inside moves.
Sacramento’s other building block, Tyreke Evans, failed to build on a promising Wednesday performance. After going 10-16 with 22 points in his previous outing, he hit only 4-11 shots from the field and missed three of his eight free throws. On several drives, he had trouble lifting off and had a few shots blocked at the rim. The plantar fasciitis that sidelined him for five weeks may still be bothering him, as even his free throws looked flat by the game’s end.
Evans and Cousins also each submitted nominees for Season’s Worst Shot Attempt. Cousins’ 20-foot off-balance heave with no follow-through or wrist snap was the ugliest moment of the first quarter, but Evans somehow managed to clang a short-armed three-point fling off the back rim while fading to his right in the third.
Evans caused Kings fans further concern with two of the worst floor-game decisions of this or any season. Picking up his dribble at the sight of a trap just before halfcourt and passing to a confused Darnell Jackson just across the timeline led to a J.R. Smith steal and highlight-film dunk in the second quarter.
Later that same quarter, Evans picked up his dribble after another trap, allowed himself to be stripped, then was late hustling back on defense for an eventual Ty Lawson layup.
Sacramento’s other starting guard, Marcus Thornton, capped off his own nightmarish night by airballing a jumper that could have cut the Nuggets’ lead to seven with under two minutes remaining. Thornton hit 4-14 shots from the field after averaging 25.0 points in his previous five games.
Denver almost blew the game open with a 31-16 margin in the third quarter, which included seven layups or dunks. The Kings clawed back in the fourth to finish with a more respectable 99-90 loss.
The fourth quarter also saw the banging and bumping of the previous three come to a head with a potentially ugly skirmish between Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Cousins, Samuel Dalembert, and assorted others. Gallinari’s needlessly hard foul on Cousins precipitated much shouting and shoving, with even Coach Paul Westphal wading in from the sidelines to play peacemaker.
Eventually, he wandered off unsatisfied but pacified. Any Kings fan watching felt the same way.
About the Author
Written by Steven Jones
Portland native, Highland Park resident, middle school teacher/basketball coach.