Nuggets beat Kings 118-108 for 4th straight win
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) One quarter, Denver's best one of the season, was the difference for the Nuggets on Friday night.
Arron Afflalo and Ty Lawson each scored 22 points, and Denver beat Sacramento Kings 118-108 for its fourth consecutive victory.
The Nuggets erased a six-point halftime deficit by outscoring the Kings 36-15 in the third period. Kenneth Faried's three-point play put Denver ahead by 20 with just over six minutes to play.
''We really ramped up defensively in the third quarter. We got after it, got active, and played with a lot of energy,'' Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said. ''We held them to 15 points and were able to score 36 ourselves. We were able to do that off our defense. That was our best quarter all season.''
DeMarcus Cousins had 32 points, 13 rebounds and a season-high four blocks for the Kings, who are 4-8 since coach Tyrone Corbin replaced Michael Malone on Dec. 15. Rudy Gay scored 22 points, and Darren Collison had 15 points and seven assists.
The Kings, who have dropped 16 of 22, were coming off one of their best games of the season, holding Oklahoma City to 32.6 percent shooting in a 104-83 win Wednesday.
''We just came out slow in the third quarter. They were shooting a high percentage in the first half and I think it caught up with us,'' Collison said.
The Nuggets improved to 16-14 since they dropped six of their first seven games this season.
Denver's starting backcourt has played quite well of late. Afflalo is averaging 23 points on 55 percent shooting in his last five games. Lawson is averaging 19.6 points and 8.6 assists over the same stretch.
Afflalo had 11 first-quarter points against Sacramento, and Lawson scored 14 in the third.
''We were a group of guys at the beginning of the season who were just getting assembled and it took time for us to get our rhythm and start playing well together,'' Afflalo said.
That rhythm was evident against the Kings, with all five starters scoring in double figures. The Nuggets made a season-high 47 field goals and shot 55 percent from the field.
Rookie center Jusuf Nurkic and J.J. Hickson had 16 points apiece for Denver, and Faried finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Denver ran off eight straight points to open the second half. Lawson scored 12 points in the first five minutes of the third, when the Nuggets took advantage of lackluster defense by the Kings, getting easy look at the offensive end and winning the rebound battle 16-5.
NOTHING FREE THIS TIME
In the Kings' prior two meetings against the Nuggets this season, both victories, Sacramento drew a whopping 97 total free-throw attempts. The Kings made 18 of 24 attempts Friday night and shot zero free throws in the third quarter.
Nuggets: Denver could see the return of two significant players - center JaVale McGee and forward Danilo Gallinari - in the next week. McGee (left tibia) has missed 17 consecutive games, and Gallinari (torn meniscus) has been out since Dec. 22.
Kings: Struggling rookie Nik Stauskas had 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting in almost 20 minutes of action. ... Cousins was 12 for 25 from the field. In his previous two games he had missed 29 of 40 shots.
Nuggets: Host Dallas on Wednesday.
Kings: Host Cleveland on Sunday.