THE FACTS: The last two times these teams met, the Denver Nuggets steamrolled the Kings by a combined score of 243-190. Tuesday in Sacramento, the Kings held tough, but let the game slip away late, losing a tough one 120-113.
Ty Lawson went at Isaiah Thomas from start to finish, scoring a team-high 24 points and handing out seven assists for the Nuggets (40-22). Kenneth Faried was a beast in the post, finishing with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Danilo Gallinari provided the long-range shooting, scoring 23 points on 5-for-6 from behind the arc.
The red-hot Marcus Thornton led all scorers with 32 points off the Kings' (21-41) bench, shooting 12-for-21 from the field and 5-for-11 from 3-point range. Thomas kept pace with Lawson, scoring 23 points and dishing out eight assists, while Jason Thompson finished with 18 point and six rebounds in the loss.
QUOTABLE: "You can't play every half and every quarter great. I thought the way we started defensively early in the third quarter was the key."
-- Nuggets coach George Karl
THE STAT: The Nuggets made shots in the second half and the Kings didn't. Denver outshot Sacramento 64.3-44.7 percent after the intermission on their home floor.
TURNING POINT: After an extremely competitive first half that ended in a 50-50 tie, the Nuggets came out aggressive in the third, scoring the quarters first seven points. The Kings fought hard to get back in the game, but never led after the break.
QUOTABLE II: "My teammates were finding me on the open three's and I was just knocking them down."
-- Danilo Galinari
HOT: Thompson was unstoppable in the first quarter, scoring 12 points on 5-for-5 shooting. With DeMarcus Cousins sitting with two fouls, the Kings starting power forward gave the Kings the offensive lift they needed to stay in the game early.
NOT: Cousins was a mess in this one, missing his first eight shots of the game before finally tipping a ball in with 3:42 left in the third quarter. Still a force on the glass, Cousins finished with 13 rebounds and five blocked shots, but his offensive woes cost the Kings dearly.
GOOD MOVE: Coach Karl used Kosta Koufos and JaVale McGee to perfection in this one. Koufos got Cousins frustrated and McGee tagged in to swipe at every shot. The result was a very ineffective Cousins.
BAD MOVE: Thompson got off to the hot start, but then his teammates forgot about him. After scoring 14 points in just 14 minutes in the first half, Thompson finished the game with 18 points on 9-for-11 shooting.
NOTABLE: Cousins set a new career-high in blocks with five. The Nuggets now have a six game win streak and improved to 14-19 on the road with the win.
UP NEXT: For the Nuggets, Thursday vs. L.A. Clippers, Saturday vs. Minnesota, Monday @ Phoenix. For the Kings, Wednesday @ Golden State, Friday vs. Phoenix, Sunday vs. Milwaukee.