Turnovers Costly in Nuggets Loss at Sacramento
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Nuggets coach Michael Malone had warned of a letdown prior to the game. The Kings had struggled mightily this season. And on top of that, they were down three of their better players – two starters.
But, Malone said, be wary of young players stepping up and playing well in place of the regulars.
Unfortunately, he was right. And it came with an additional frustrating twist.
The Nuggets 106-98 loss at Sacramento at the Golden 1 Center on Saturday night was fueled by their own errors. They committed a season-high 26 turnovers, and the Kings converted them into 40 points, which is also a season-high allowed by the Nuggets.
Outside of that, the Nuggets played well enough. But they could not get into anything offensively because of the miscues. Yet the Nuggets were never completely out of the game. They rallied from an early 12-point deficit to tie the game. They were down just five points at halftime.
By the middle of the second half the mission was clear: If the Nuggets were to rally and win, they’d have to do it despite committing so many turnovers and allowing points off of them.
In that respect, the 3-point shot was the Nuggets’ friend. Jamal Murray hit timely shots from behind the arc in the fourth quarter, keeping the Nuggets in contact. Trey Lyles continued his solid offensive play as well, scoring from a variety of places. With 4:42 in the fourth, the Nuggets were in definite striking distance, down just 94-89.
All they had to do was buckle down, get stops, and limit the damage from turnovers to what had already transpired. But they couldn’t get enough stops.
When Vince Carter made a 3-pointer at 2:31 in the fourth, the Kings were up 101-92, and they held on from there.
The Nuggets were led by Lyles’ 19 points and nine rebounds. He made 8-for-11 shots. Murray had 18 points, and Gary Harris and Will Barton each finished with 17 points apiece. De’Aaron Fox led the Kings with 18 points. Willie Cauley-Stein had 17 points and seven steals.
The Nuggets return to action on Monday night at Golden State.
Christopher Dempsey: email@example.com and @chrisadempsey on Twitter.