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Nuggets

Lawson’s 20 Points Lifts Nuggets Past Kings 104-90

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DENVER - MARCH 30: The Denver Nuggets versus the Sacramento Kings on March 30, 2011 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. Copyright 2011 NBAE (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

DENVER – MARCH 30: The Denver Nuggets versus the Sacramento Kings on March 30, 2011 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. Copyright 2011 NBAE (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

DENVER (AP) — Ty Lawson scored 20 points, J.R. Smith and Danilo Gallinari had 17 each and the Denver Nuggets beat the surging Sacramento Kings 104-90 on Wednesday night.

Al Harrington scored 15 and Nene had 12 points and 15 rebounds for the Nuggets, who won their fourth straight and increased their lead over Portland to 2 1/2 games for the fifth spot in the Western Conference playoff race. The Trail Blazers lost at New Orleans on Wednesday.

Marcus Thornton scored 27 and Tyreke Evans had 22 off the bench for the Kings, whose four-game win streak was snapped.

The game was close for most of the second half before the Nuggets took control in the fourth. With Denver leading 80-79, Gallinari’s dunk, Lawson’s jumper and consecutive 3-pointers from Gallinari and Felton gave Denver a 94-83 lead with 3:09 left.

The Kings led 57-49 early in the third when the Nuggets rallied to get even. A three-point play by Gallinari, a 3-pointer from Wilson Chandler and a jumper by Lawson tied it. Harrington’s fast-break dunk midway through the period gave Denver a 59-57 lead, its first of the game.

The Nuggets lead the NBA in scoring at 107.7 points a game, but sputtered to start Wednesday. They were 1 for 6 from the field and the foul line and had just five points more than halfway through the first quarter and trailed by 11.

The Nuggets rallied behind their bench, which gave them a spark and got them within 32-31 early in the second quarter. Sacramento responded with a 15-5 run, capped by Thornton’s fourth 3-pointer of the half, to stretch the lead to 47-36.

The Kings led 51-41 at halftime.

Notes: Denver F Kenyon Martin left in the first quarter with the flu and did not return. … Nuggets G Arron Afflalo sat out his fourth straight game while nursing a strained left hamstring. He is expected to return to the lineup when the Nuggets play the Kings in Sacramento on Friday. … The Kings have more wins on the road (11) than they do at home (10).

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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