Monster first quarter propels Kings to rout of Nuggets


Nov 5, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; Denver Nuggets center Timofey Mozgov (25) fouls Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) during the third quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Sacramento Kings defeated the Denver Nuggets 131-109. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Each Sacramento Kings game is now coming with a set of questions. Are these Kings for real? When will they come back down to earth? The answers for now — maybe and not Wednesday. Any skepticism about Sacramento’s early play this season was again put to bed early in Wednesday’s home tilt with the Denver Nuggets. The Kings exploded out of the gate, as the team tried to bury Denver within 12 minutes. Mission accomplished. Sacramento kept its foot on the accelerator all game and torched the Nuggets, 131-109, to move to 4-1.

KINGS GO NUTS IN OPENING FRAME — Monday’s game in Denver was notably slow-paced, so the Kings decided to switch things up on Wednesday. They attacked the Nuggets immediately and looked to push the tempo at every opportunity. Defensive effort turned into offensive success. It was clear Ben McLemore had a desire to kickstart his own game, taking three of Sac’s first four shots. After that, the DeMarcus Cousins show started. Denver had no answer for Boogie, who scored at the rim on powerful drives and on the perimeter with feathery jumpers. Cousins’ 16 first-quarter points helped the Kings to a commanding 40-19 lead at the end of one period.

COUSINS, GAY THE LEADERS OF TEAM BALL — Once the ball got rolling, the Kings started having fun, and Sacramento came at the Nuggets from multiple angles. Cousins (22 MIN, 30 PTS, 10-14 FG, 10-11 FT, 11 REB, 2 STL, 3 TO) was limited to just 22 minutes before fouling out — just enough time to drop 30 points on a hapless Denver interior. Cousins’ patience on the offensive end is noticeably improved, and he is growing as a defensive anchor and help defender. Rudy Gay (35 MIN, 29 PTS, 9-12 FG, 3-3 3FG, 8-10 FT, 3 REB, 3 AST, 3 TO) almost quietly filled the role of sidekick stud with yet another efficient game. These two continue to lead the charge with both their play and attitudes.

McLEMORE CONTRIBUTES — It’s easy to look at Ben McLemore’s offensive numbers and write him off, and there’s no doubt he needs to become more consistent on that end. But Wednesday’s game was a good example of how he can contribute without being a volume scorer, because he doesn’t need to be. McLemore (36 MIN, 10 PTS, 3-7 FG, 2-5 3FG, 7 REB, 3 AST, 1 BLK) was a ball of energy against Denver, specifically on the defensive end where he is making strides by the day. He also hit the boards and was key in starting some fastbreaks. It was also great to see him knock down some open threes. As always, if he can bring defense and the ability to drop set triples, he becomes a key cog on this team.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS — The camaraderie on this squad is easy to see, and nothing brings it out like a blowout victory. The Reggie Evans two-gun salute after an elbow jumper, Omri Casspi adjusting Cousins’ headband, McLemore coming to the defense of a fallen Jason Thompson…always great to see on a young team … Coach Michael Malone can’t go much longer before Ray McCallum plays his way into the backup point guard role. The Kings offense has taken a dive with Ramon Sessions (11 MIN, 2 PTS, 0-2 FG, -13 +/-) on the floor, while McCallum (6 MIN, 8 PTS, 3-4 FG, 1 STL) again made the most of limited minutes against the Nuggets. You can’t keep him on the bench much longer … Carl Landry is finally paying dividends. Looking fully healthy, Landry (16 MIN, 18 PTS, 4-6 FG, 10-10 FT, 4 REB) was a point-per-minute scorer Wednesday and is clearly the Kings number one scoring option off the bench … The Kings lived at the free throw line, knocking down 39-of-50.