A nice moment pre-game with Melvin Hunt and Patrick Mutumbo wandering over to the Kings bench to get warm hugs, smiles, and greetings from George Karl. You can see he's emotional to be in Denver, and you have to hope good things come for Karl along the way. Just maybe not today. Pepsi Center looks half-empty in the camera swipes, but the crowd who's there is enthusiastic, and looking to wrap the home season up on a positive note.
Kenneth Faried comes out of the gates hot, with six points and two boards in the first two minutes. Ben McLemore is putting up all the early points for the Kings, conversely, and it's going to be interesting to see who has a second or third gyuy get on track. After Danilo Gallinari's 47-point outburst against the Mavericks in 2OT two nights ago.
Things do start to open up as Faried stays hot, scoring eight points in the first four minutes. Ty Lawson, Randy Foye, and Gallo all start to chip in on the scoring, and Denver finds itself up by eight halfway through the quarter. Faried makes it 12 points and three boards by the five-minute mark, and our old friend Andre Miller joins the fray for the Kings.
Miller gets the Kings back in the game with scoring, but Faried stays on his torrid arc. By the end of the first, the Manimal has had a career-best start, with 19 points, four boards, and an assist out of the gates. End of Q1, the Nuggets lead the Kings, 37-28.
Hunt brings in the second team, save Lawson, who stays in the game. Jusuf Nurkic, J.J. Hickson, Will Barton, and Erick Green help propel Denver to a 7-0 run, and Denver finds itself up by 14 in the first couple minutes of the quarter. Sacramento makes a run of their own as Denver's second team starts to get a little sloppy, closing the gap to nine in a minute.
Halfway through Q2, Wilson Chandler and Faried both re-join the fray (Lawson has played all but two minutes of the game thus far, after over 52 minutes in that Mavs marathon. Ty's going to be tired after the season ends. The remaining starters are back in short order, and still the Kings continue to chip away. At the three minute mark, Sacramento is down by four, 54-50. 70 seconds later, the game is tied, and the Nuggets cannot stop shooting (and missing) from the perimeter.
After a three-pointer provides the Kings with their first lead of the game, points are traded over the last couple minutes until halftime, and at the end it's a bit of a wash... at the half, Nuggets lead by one, 60-59.
Denver picks up both the defense and the scoring in Q3, and puts a seven point buffer back in place over the first few minutes of the frame. Faried and Jason Thompson are hacking away at each other, both getting into foul trouble, with Thompson taking a seat at the nine-minute mark with five fouls.
Denver is staying busy in the second half early on, forcing four turnovers in the first four minutes of Q3. Chandler has been building a slow burn, and after a zero-point first quarter, he's got 14 points halfway through Q3. A pair of free throws for Gallo also puts him into double digits, and suddenly, four of the five starters are there, and Lawson has eight points. Less than 60 seconds later, Ty had his bucket to join the fray.
With every getting back in on the scoring, the floodgates open, and by the three minute mark, Denver had built their biggest lead of the game, 15 points. Inside the minute mark, Faried sinks a free throw that takes his point total to 30. Hell of a game for the Manimal tonight, his career high is 34. End of the third quarter, Nuggets lead 94-84.
Two and a half minute into Q4, a nifty high lay-in by Chandler gets the Nuggets to the century mark, 100-88, and Ill Will immediately follows that with his third made trey of the game, pushing the lead back to 15. With a decent lead, and a back-to-back coming tomorrow night, coach Hunt empties the bench with seven minutes to play, save Lawson, who stays in with 36 minutes already on the odometer.
A few minutes later, with things looking secure, Lawson finally gets to take a seat and Denver wraps up the evening with Gary Harris, Green, Barton, Joffrey Lauvergne, and Nurkic for the last four minutes of the game and an 18 point lead. A minute later, Ian Clark and Jamaal Franklin step in for Harris and Green, and everyone gets time on the floor for the Nuggets.
A fun game for your Denver Nuggets today, final score 122-111, Nuggets over Kings.
Stiffs of the Game
Not many Stiffs this game, but Jusuf Nurkic looks like a shadow of the guy we saw earlier this season, with two points, one block, and two turnovers in 11 minutes on the floor. It will be interesting to see what Nurk can do in the offseason, as the rookie wall looks to have collapsed upon him this season.
Studs of the Game
Will Barton joined the starters in double-digit scoring, and Gallo and Chandler each had some special moments, including a nifty bobble-turned-to-no-look dish for Gallo in the fourth quarter. But Kenneth Faried was the start of the game after that stellar first quarter, finishing the night with 30 points, seven boards, and three steals in 31 minutes of play.
Two more games to go, Nuggets Nation, before the long offseason begins. Did you see George Karl's return to the Pepsi Center? What did you make of today?