Kings

Instant Replay: Cousins wins battle of bigs, Kings edge Nuggets

Instant Replay: Cousins wins battle of bigs, Kings edge Nuggets

BOX SCORE

After two straight losses, the Sacramento Kings gritted one out in Denver Tuesday night, coming away with a much needed road win against a young Nuggets team. The Kings featured a balanced attack and picked up timely baskets when they needed them to pull out the 120-113 win. 

Darren Collison is finding his game. After a prolonged struggle, Collison has bounced back of late, posting big numbers as a second scoring option for Sacramento. The Nuggets had no answer for the Kings starting point guard who finished the night with 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Collison added seven assists and turned the ball over just twice in 35 minutes of action.

Nikola Jokic will see DeMarcus Cousins in his nightmares. Sacramento’s star big man dominated the Nuggets up-and-comer, scoring 31 points, grabbing six rebounds and handing out six assists in the win.

We have an Arron Afflalo sighting. Things haven’t gone as planned for Afflalo in his first season in Sacramento, but he came out firing Tuesday night against his former team. The 10-year NBA vet hit 8-for-11 from the field for a big 19 points off the Kings bench.

Big man Kosta Koufos played big in the post, dropping in 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting and grabbing five rebounds. Garrett Temple came up big late, scoring eight points while grabbing six rebounds and dishing out five assists.

Denver found their range early from behind the arc, torching the Kings for 11 3-pointers before the intermission. The Kings did a better job late, but the Nuggets still hit 18-for-38 shooting from deep on the night.

Danilo Gallinari is a matchup nightmare for the Kings. The sweet-shooting Italian knocked down 4-for-6 from the perimeter on his way to 24 points. 

Jusuf Nurkic went to work against the Kings’ big frontline. The third-year big poured in 16 points, six rebounds and four assists. Jokic struggled early, but still managed to score 18 points and grab seven rebounds and hand out five assists.

Shooting guard Gary Harris added 15 points and Darrell Arthur finished with 12 points as the Nuggets fell a game and half behind the Kings in the standings.  

STANDOUT PERFORMER

Welcome back to Denver Arron Afflalo. The veteran shooting guard had his best game of the season coming off Dave Joerger’s bench after missing three games with an elbow injury. 

TURNING POINT

Sacramento played well down the stretch to outlast the Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. They pushed the lead to 11 midway through the fourth and never looked back on their way to their 15th win on the season.

INJURY UPDATE 

Ty Lawson tried to give it a go in pregame after suffering a maxillary sinus fracture Saturday against Memphis. He has now been diagnosed with subconjunctival hemorrhage in his right eye (blurred vision). Rudy Gay missed his third straight and has now sat in nine of the Kings previous 10 games with a right hip flexor strain. 

WHAT'S NEXT 

The Kings return home following the game to face an injury decimated Miami Heat team Wednesday night at the Golden 1 Center. 

After loss to Nuggets, it's clear Kings need to fix problem on the glass

After loss to Nuggets, it's clear Kings need to fix problem on the glass

SACRAMENTO -- Light in the rear. It’s a term the Sacramento Kings coaching staff has used since the beginning of training camp to describe the bigs on the roster. On Monday night at Golden 1 Center, the team’s lack of strength inside was on full display as the Denver Nuggets crushed them on the glass.

“I think we’re 29th in the league for rebounding, so that’s a little bit of our makeup of how our team is made,” Dave Joerger said following the Kings’ 114-98 loss.

Joerger is close in his assessment, but off by a few spots. His roster ranks 26th in the league in rebounding overall and 28th on the defensive side of the ball. It’s become an achilles heel for a team that has a few glaring weaknesses.

“When Willie (Cauley-Stein) and Kosta (Koufos) aren’t in there to snag every rebound, we have to get in there and help Zach (Randolph) and help Skal (Labissiere),” veteran Garrett Temple said. “Skal’s a little undersized in terms of weight and Z-Bo will put his body on people, but some people might be able to out jump him.”

On a normal night, Temple is right. Randolph and Labissiere struggle to put up big numbers on the glass. But against the Nuggets, it was Koufos and Cauley-Stein that combined to grab nine rebounds in 51 total minutes of action.

Randolph and Labissiere didn’t fair much better, finishing with 10 boards between the two of them in 38 minutes with the starters. Between the Kings’ four bigs, they were out rebounded by the Nuggets bigs by a final of 34-19.

The Nuggets came into the night a top 10 rebounding team overall and the second best offensive rebounding team in the NBA at 11.8 per game.

It’s not just the bigs that struggled to grab boards for Sacramento. Without Buddy Hield, the club’s best rebounding wing, the Kings’ were dominated 49-34 overall in rebounding, including 14-5 on the offensive glass.

“The first shot, it’s a good contest, we did everything right, except get the rebound,” rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox said. “And then they get an open shot off a second chance shot. If we can complete a lot of plays with the rebound, we’ll be okay.”

To Fox’s point, the defensive possession doesn’t end until the rebound is secured. Sacramento was outscored 19-6 on second chance points. In a 16-point game, those numbers loom large.

“Us guards, we know we have to help our bigs,” Fox said. “We know our bigs are athletic. We know they do what they do, at the end of the day, other team’s guards are helping their bigs rebound and their bigs aren’t alone.”

Outside of the four bigs, none of the other seven players to see action had more than three rebounds. It’s an issue that has to be addressed as the Kings move forward.

“There are some instances that really bothered me,” Joerger said. “We had some guys leaking out, standing at half court and that I won’t have.”

The Kings have a day of practice on Tuesday to try and sure up some of their issues. Some of the problems stem from inexperience, but some of the issue comes down to energy and effort.

It doesn’t even get easier on Wednesday. The Los Angeles Lakers rank second in the league in rebounding at 47.5 boards per game. On the plus side, they also give up the 28th most rebounds in the league.

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone suspended for game against Kings

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USATSI

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone suspended for game against Kings

Michael Malone won't be on the sideline when his Nuggets take on his former team on Monday night.

The NBA announced Monday afternoon that Malone has been suspended without pay for the game against the Kings.

The suspension stems from Malone "entering the court, halting play and making contact with a game official" during Denver's game against the Lakers on Sunday. The incident occurred midway through the second quarter.

Malone was hired as head coach of the Kings prior to the 2013-14 season. He was fired just 24 games into the 2014-15 season.

Coverage of the Nuggets and Kings gets underway at 6:30pm on NBC Sports California and streaming on the NBC Sports App.