Following the devastating buzzer-beating overtime loss to the Utah Jazz on Sunday evening, the Sacramento Kings have a quick turnaround Monday when they play the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center.
A little over a week ago the Kings were just a half game behind the Nuggets in the chase for the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoff race. Sacramento has now dropped four in a row and they are spiraling down the standings. The Kings went toe-to-toe against Utah on Sunday, but time is running out for a late surge to get them back in the playoff conversation.
Denver isn’t running away from anyone for the final postseason berth in the west. They can score in bunches, boasting the league’s fourth best offensive output at 110.6 points per game. On the flip side, they allow an incredible 111.4 points per game on the defensive side of the ball.
Nuggets by 13.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Willie Cauley-Stein vs. Nikola Jokic -- The last time these two teams met up, it was Cauley-Stein and not Jokic that put on a show. The Kings’ 7-footer put on an aerial assault of dunks off the pick-and-roll and once he got it in the flow, the Nuggets had no answer. Cauley-Stein finished the night with career-high 29 points and chipped in 10 rebounds in the win. Jokic looked stunned by Cauley-Stein’s play and managed to post just four points and 10 rebounds in 26 minutes of action.
WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 25-37, third place in Pacific
Nuggets: 28-34, third place in Northwest
Kings: G/F Garrett Temple (left hamstring partial tear) is out as a precautionary move after playing Sunday against the Jazz following a 12 game absence, SG Malachi Richardson (right hamstring partial tear) out, F Rudy Gay (torn left Achilles) out for season.
Nuggets: No injuries to report. All players participated in shootaround.
After sweeping the season series 3-0 last year, Sacramento holds a 2-0 advantage over the Nuggets this year. The all-time series between these two teams is close, but the Kings hold an 88-86 lead after winning five straight and they are up on the Nuggets 65-61 lead during the Sacramento-era.
“I was extremely proud of my teammates. Everybody was engaged on both ends of the court. We played with a purpose to win tonight. It’s going to be a true test of our will to take a tough loss like this and play the team tomorrow that we’re trying to catch for the eighth spot. We just have to be mentally tough, physically tough and get out there and compete tomorrow.” -Arron Afflalo following the loss to Utah