Denver Nuggets 97, Sacramento Kings 100 (OT): Three takeaways

by Alex Labidou
Nuggets.com Staff Writer
@LabidouA

The Denver Nuggets saw a 17-point lead slip out of their grasp as they lost a 100-97 nail biter in overtime against the Sacramento Kings. 

Gary Harris paced the Nuggets with 25 points and three steals while Harrison Barnes led all scorers with 30 points and five boards. 

Denver appeared to be set for its 14th win of the season after a strong first half. In the first quarter, the Nuggets (13-4) went on a 17-0 run to take a 23-8 lead. As has been the case throughout the season, defense was the team’s catalyst as it pickpocketed Sacramento (8-10) three times during that run. The Nuggets would enter halftime with their biggest lead of the night at 17 thanks to a Malik Beasley-sparked run midway in the second quarter. Beasley hit three from downtown in the quarter and had two assists. 

In the third quarter, the Kings would pick up some momentum as they went on a 25-11 run to cut the deficit to just three points. Barnes almost single-handedly brought his team back into the game as he had 12 points and shot 4 of 7 in that quarter. Despite improved play from the home team, the Nuggets would take a 75-67 lead into the final 12 minutes of the game.  

In the fourth quarter, the Nuggets would see a 12-point advantage evaporate after two three-pointers from Buddy Hield sparked a 17-3 run. Jamal Murray had a chance to ice the game in the final possession of the fourth quarter but was blocked by Richaun Holmes, sending the game to overtime. Unfortunately for Denver, the same offensive struggles that allowed Sacramento to rally back into the game crept into overtime. Michael Malone’s team could only muster two made buckets and would be outscored by three, sealing a win for the home team. 

"They played well, give them credit. They played good defense and turned up the pressure and we didn't handle it well," Malone said to reporters after the game. 

The Nuggets will hope to rebound when they host the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday. 

Here are the takeways:

Second half collapse 

The Nuggets’ offense was moving the ball efficiently in the first half it had 14 assists on 21 made baskets. In the second half, the team couldn’t replicate that formula and would muster just nine assists in the final three quarters of the game. 

After hitting 9 of 16 from downtown in the first half, the Nuggets would make two of their final 16 attempts the remainder of the contest. Denver shot 51.2 percent in the first two quarters but would shoot 34 percent in the second half and overtime. Nikola Jokić’s struggles from the floor contributed to the result as he had seven points on 3-of-11 shooting. 

Bench mob comes through

For the second-straight game, the Nuggets' bench outscored their opponent's second unit.. They have the recent emergence of Beasley to thank. The 22-year-old scored 11 points in 20 minutes, including going 3-of-3 from behind the arc. Since Beasley’s clutch cameo against the Suns on Sunday, he’s shooting a scorching 66 percent from downtown in his last three outings. 

The frontcourt reserves were also effective as Jerami Grant had 12 points and five rebounds and Mason Plumlee added eight points and seven boards. 

G takes off early

Gary Harris scored 17 points in his last two games combined, he would eclipse that in the first quarter against the Kings Saturday. Harris poured in a season-high 18 points in the opening 12 minutes, shooting 5 of 7, including three from downtown. 

Harris has been getting plenty of praise for his superb defensive work with teammates now calling him “First-Team” on every reference, a rallying call for him to make the All-Defensive team. But it was encouraging to see him making an impact on the other side of the court. 

"Gary Harris got off to a great start, made shots and was attacking the basket," Malone said after the game. "Once he said the ball go into the net a couple of times, he started shooting into a bigger basket. That was great to see." 

The Nuggets shooting guard got going thanks to a tantalizing mix of cutting to the basket and hitting from behind the arc when he couldn’t get to the rim. His confident first half display brought back flashbacks of his best offensive season in 2017-18, where he averaged 17.5 points per game. 

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