As has been firmly established, the Nuggets just are not a great matchup for the Kings. That said, Sacramento posted a performance far better than those previously put up against Denver. The Kings slowed Denver’s transition, forcing the Nuggets into more halfcourt sets. But as it turns out, Denver isn’t too shabby in that regard either. The Kings just could not slow Denver’s many weapons, and while Sacramento’s offense hung around for a while, it wasn’t enough. The Nuggets took a 120-113 victory.
CENTER OF ATTENTION – DeMarcus Cousins (27 MIN, 8 PTS, 1-12 FG, 6-10 FT, 13 REB, 3 AST, 3 TO, 5 BLK) was in the spotlight for this one, mostly for all the wrong reasons. First, the good: Cousins posted a career-best five blocks and never completely erupted. Unfortunately, that was it. It started as a typical game for Cousins, as not even two minutes had elapsed before he had the ear of an official. Seemingly every time he touched the ball he was looking for a whistle, and in the first half, it was just good, clean, physical defense by Denver. Then in the second half when he actually was taking some over-the-line contact, you couldn’t blame the refs for swallowing their whistles. And that angered Cousins to the point that he and multiple Nuggets started getting into it. Danilo Gallinari, Kosta Koufos and Javale McGee all had minor altercations with Cousins, who was completely taken out of the game because of his poor attitude. His offense was a detriment and accordingly, Keith Smart sat the big man down the stretch. Nothing you can really say at this point — Cousins is his own worst enemy. He took himself out of the game early and never recovered.
THORNTON SHOULDERS LOAD – Marcus Thornton (35 MIN, 32 PTS, 12-21 FG, 5-11 3FG, 4 REB, 2 AST, 1 TO) did everything he could to help the Kings keep up with Denver. Thornton, who saw the most floor time of any Kings player, was a one-man wrecking crew, particularly in the second half when he poured in 20 points. Thornton is in an offensive zone right now and he’s forcing Keith Smart to get creative with his lineup. Thornton played as part of a three-guard lineup with Isaiah Thomas and Tyreke Evans, and then in an even smaller unit with John Salmons at the four. It’s great to see Thornton finally finding his way offensively. He has the ability to carry the team, and right now, he’s got the green light every time he touches the rock.
LAWSON VS. ISAIAH – One of the fastest point guard matchups in the NBA took place Tuesday. Ty Lawson and Isaiah Thomas (34 MIN, 23 PTS, 6-13 FG, 3-6 3FG, 8-9 FT, 8 AST, 3 REB, 2 TO) went right at each other, but it was each player’s outside shooting that provided their best source of offense. You could have made the case that the Kings won the point guard battle…if it wasn’t for the Nuggets grizzled veteran on the bench. Andre Miller was a huge factor, especially down the stretch when he got to the rim at will and scored repeatedly on the Kings. Miller put up 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, stopping any chance of a Kings comeback bid.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Jason Thompson was certainly up to the challenge of dealing with the super active Kenneth Faried. Thompson (29 MIN, 18 PTS, 9-11 FG, 6 REB, 2 AST) started the game on fire offensively, scoring 12 of the Kings first 15 points. With Cousins a non-factor, Thompson seized the opportunity to provide interior scoring for the team … Unfortunately, John Salmons (32 MIN, 11 PTS, 4-9 FG, 3-7 3FG, 4 REB, 2 AST, 2 TO) couldn’t stay as hot as he was two nights ago. He hit some shots late, but was not much of a contributor through the course of the game … Patrick Patterson (11 MIN, 6 PTS, 2-3 FG, 2 REB) had a nice first half stint, providing great energy off the bench. He was especially effective on the offensive glass, creating multiple extra opportunities with tip outs … If you’re keeping track, James Johnson’s last four games: 42 minutes, 10 turnovers. Three more in 8 minutes against Denver.