Kings top Nuggets in Denver for third straight win


Nov 3, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried (35) dribbles the ball against Sacramento Kings forward Reggie Evans (30) in the third quarter at the Pepsi Center. The Kings won 110-105. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

And just like that, the Sacramento Kings are 3-1.

A date with the Nuggets in Denver on the second night of a back-to-back figured to be yet another test for these developing Kings. And for one half, neither team appeared poised to seize control, both shooting under 35 percent and failing to find any semblance of offense in a game dominated by whistles.

But this favored the Kings. So many times, games in Denver have turned into track meets with the Kings placing a distant second. On Monday, the slower pace benefited Sacramento, and when it was time to take over, the Kings did just that.

This was a total team effort that again started at the point with newcomer Darren Collison. With the team searching for offense in the third quarter, Collison (30 MIN, 21 PTS, 5-9 FG, 11-13 FT, 4 REB, 6 AST, 1 STL, 1 TO) stepped up as a scorer, drilling three clutch, timely jumpers to spark the team. The Kings took a slim two-point lead into the final quarter.

Sacramento got a huge lift from the reserves, specifically in the second half, allowing the starters to get a prolonged rest. Carl Landry (23 MIN, 14 PTS, 7-12 FG) served as the second unit’s primary scorer. While Ramon Sessions (21 MIN, 13 PTS, 1-6 FG, 10-10 FT, 2 REB, 3 AST, 3 TO) again struggled mightily for most of the game, he was able to get to the line and convert. Omri Casspi’s energy was a big boost, and he joined fellow reserve Ray McCallum on the floor for most of the fourth quarter.

Perhaps the most encouraging part of this win for Sacramento was the team’s ability to overcome mistakes. Collison made a fourth-quarter mistake by not corralling a rebound that led to a Nuggets basket. Casspi (27 MIN, 9 PTS, 3-7 FG, 3-4 FT, 4 AST) fouled a three-point shooter with a 5-point lead and under a minute remaining. But the Kings didn’t let that bury them. They put it in the rearview and moved on to victory.

Collison, Rudy Gay (23 MIN, 14 PTS, 4-13 FG, 4 REB, 3 AST, 3 TO) and DeMarcus Cousins (25 MIN, 19 PTS, 6-13 FG, 7-9 FT, 5 REB, 2 STL) combined to score the Kings final 12 points, keeping the Nuggets at bay and icing the victory. Sacramento moves to 3-1 for the first time since the 2010-11 season. And the confidence and momentum surrounding the team continues to grow.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS — It was great to see McCallum get some meaningful minutes, and the second-year guard did well. Again, the Kings hole at shooting-guard opens up plenty of opportunities for Coach Michael Malone. Sunday, he went with Casspi there in a big lineup. Monday, it was McCallum providing a second ball-handler. He scored four points in the fourth quarter … Nik Stauskas got his introduction to NBA refs (Joey Crawford). He picked up three fouls in 1:33 of the first half and never saw the court again … Reggie Evans snared a game-high 14 rebounds in 23 bench minutes … The Kings made just 2-of-9 shots from three-point range.