DENVER (AP) – Leave it to the Denver Nuggets’ reserves to steal the show.
Each of Denver’s 12 players scored at least six points, including 11 apiece by Timofey Mozgov and Arron Afflalo as the Nuggets won their third in a row and improved to 4-0 at home. They beat the Kings in Denver for the sixth straight time.
“It’s unique,” said Kosta Koufos, who had his first career double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds) while helping to fill in for the injured Nene. “In every position, we’re deep. One person gets tired and another person comes in and plays just as well, and having that is a luxury for us. At the same time, we have the mentality to win as many games as possible and keep working hard and getting better as a team.”
While the Nuggets may lack superstars – the team traded away Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, its best known players – coach George Karl said Denver is fortunate to have a very deep roster. It has allowed him to shuffle his players in and out in waves and run the floor, often wearing down the opposition, as was the case against the Kings.
“We’re going to go after teams with our intensity and, hopefully, the flow of flooding good players on to the court,” Karl said. “I’m still kind of learning this team, too. It’s fun to see them evolve and see where we go.”
Added Afflalo: “It’s still early. We’ve been fortunate enough to gut-out some wins. We still have a lot of improving to do as a team and individually. Hopefully, we continue to stay on an upward pace and win at the same time.”
The Nuggets took the lead almost right away against a Kings team that was playing the second of three games in three days. Midway through the game, the Kings also lost guard Tyreke Evans after he became ill.
“That was a kick in our teeth. You can’t hide from it,” Kings coach Paul Westphal of his team’s ragged performance. “I still think we have the makings of a good basketball team and I believe we will bounce back.
“They got on us early. I thought we were pressing. Our shooting, it’s undescribable. The avalanche just fell on us.”
The Kings, who remained winless in three road games this season, got 26 points from DeMarcus Cousins and 23 from Marcus Thornton. Cousins was playing his second game since returning from a one-game ban for demanding a trade, according to the team. Cousins denies making any such demand.
Up by 17 at the half, the Nuggets stretched the lead to 66-41 on a basket by Danilo Gallinari with 6:33 left in the third quarter. Sacramento scored 14 of the next 18 points, pulling to 70-55 on Thornton’s 3-pointer, but wound up lagging behind Denver 85-64 going into the fourth quarter.
The Nuggets led 27-17 after the first quarter and began the second with a 14-2 run, pulling out to a 41-19 lead on a fast-break dunk by Corey Brewer with 7:14 remaining in the period. The Kings cut the deficit to 13 on a layup by Thornton but Gallinari pulled off a reverse layup and then got a steal to start a fast break that Harrington finished with a layup for a 56-39 lead at halftime.
NOTES: The Kings conclude their only back-to-back-to-back set of the season at home on Thursday, when they host Milwaukee. … Nuggets forward Nene missed a second straight game with a bruised left heel. … Kings haven’t won in Denver since April 5, 2008, a 118-115 decision. … Thornton had his 44th career 20-plus point game. … It was only the second time in franchise history that the Nuggets had 12 players score at least six points in a game.
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