BOX SCORE

Never in doubt. The Kings walked into Denver, and looked every bit the part of a young team searching for an identity. The Nuggets didn’t help with that search, running over the Kings for a 126-112 victory to improve to 4-0 on the season.

Denver’s starting backcourt of Gary Harris and Jamal Murray torched the Kings for a combined 37 points in just under 45 minutes of action. Nikola Jokic was on his way to a triple-double before sitting out the fourth quarter.

Sacramento struggled, but there were a few encouraging performances. Marvin Bagley, Justin Jackson and Frank Mason all gave the team a spark off the bench, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings fall to 1-3 on the season. 

Deplorable defense

The Nuggets are really good, but the Kings made them look like contenders. Denver attacked Sacramento’s interior defense, and the visiting team had no answer. 

With Jokic running the show, the Nuggets dismantled the Kings, shooting 52 percent from the field and 37.9 percent from long range. The numbers would have been even worse if the Nuggets hadn’t gone to the bench for the entire fourth quarter. 

Justin Jackson sighting 

After struggling in the Kings’ first two games, Justin Jackson has looked more comfortable coming off of coach Dave Joerger’s bench. He posted a solid 11-point, five-rebound, three-assist night against the Thunder on Sunday and he built off of that game Tuesday in Denver.

 

Jackson drilled 3-for-5 from long range on his way to 17 points. He looked confident with his shot and was one of very few bright spots in an otherwise rough performance by Sacramento. 

Bagley building

Being a rookie isn’t easy, but Bagley is taking each game as an opportunity to improve. The 19-year-old big scored 20 points on 9-for-11 shooting and added nine rebounds and three assists on the evening.

In addition to putting up strong offensive numbers, Bagley blocked five shots. He’s a work in progress on the defensive end, but he’s shown that he can be a rim protector, especially in one-on-one situations.