The Sacramento Kings fell apart coming out of the half and the Denver Nuggets took advantage. Playing on the second night of a back-to-back, the Kings looked gassed in the third, falling behind by as many as 17 in the quarter. Denver put it in cruise control late, handing the Kings their fifth straight loss, this time by a final of 108-96.
Wilson Chandler got it going early, scoring 16 of his career-high 36 points in the first quarter. The veteran wing shot 13-for-23 from the field and added 12 rebounds in the win.
Danilo Gallinari’s size hurt the Kings. The veteran forward shot over the top of the his defenders, dropping in 18 points on 5-for-7 shooting while grabbing six rebounds.
Gary Harris added 15 points and Will Barton went for nine off the bench.
Darren Collison put up solid numbers for the second straight game, finishing the night with 17 points and five assists. Ty Lawson struggled from the field starting next to Collison, but still managed to score 13 points and hand out six assists.
Kosta Koufos started in the middle and finished the night with 14 points and 10 rebounds in 24 minutes.
Buddy Hield let it fly. The rookie shooting guard poured in 14 points on 4-for-7 shooting coming off Dave Joerger’s bench.
Tyreke Evans chipped in 12 points with the second unit. Willie Cauley-Stein added 10 points and grabbed five rebound before fouling out late and Skal Labissiere went for 10 points and six rebounds in the loss.
Chandler started at the four and ran circles around a much bigger Cauley-Stein. With Rudy Gay’s injury, the trade of Omri Casspi and Matt Barnes being waived, the Kings have an issue with combo forwards and both Chandler and Gallinari exploited the weakness.
Sacramento came out of the half flat and the Nuggets punished them in the third. Denver took a big lead into the fourth and helped head coach Michael Malone pick up his first win against his former team in six tries.
Garrett Temple returned to action on Sunday against the Jazz, but sat out Monday’s game as a precautionary move. Rookie Malachi Richardson is out 4-6 weeks with a right hamstring thickness tear, but hopes to return before the season is finished. Rudy Gay is out for the year with a torn left Achilles.
The Kings continue their mini-road trip Wednesday in San Antonio against the Spurs. They return to Sacramento for a back-to-back games against the Wizards and Nuggets on Friday and Saturday.