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Recap: Denver Nuggets fall off down the stretch and lose 100-97 to Sacramento Kings in overtime

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Ugly loss

Denver Nuggets v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets took a six game winning streak into Sacramento where they played a Kings team who has been up and down. The Nuggets got out in front early behind Gary Harris but then fell off down the stretch. Despite a tough night shooting, the Kings and Buddy Hield found their rhythm in the final moments of the game and rode a big run to force overtime. The OT period was back and forth but Sacramento prevailed behind a big performance from Harrison Barnes. Ugly loss and one the Nuggets definitely let get away as they fall 97 to 100.

The pace of the game started in the Nuggets favor, both teams were walking it up the court and working the ball inside. Unfortunately, the Nuggets offense was stagnating and relying on jump shots. Richaun Holmes provided good rim protection and made Denver think twice about going inside. Sacramento was awful on the other end though. They turned the ball over four times before the first quarter was even half over and also failed to get inside so Denver build an early lead. The Kings went ice cold from the floor while Gary Harris was making shots and working well with Jokic. Denver’s lead grew to double digits behind Harris’ offense who had fifteen points with three minutes left in the quarter. The Nuggets didn’t get much out of anyone else in the first quarter though and the Kings bench showed some energy down the stretch which kept Denver’s lead to ten after one.

The Nuggets bench struggled opening the second and let the Kings get a quick 5-0 run. Mason Plumlee in particular had a rough stretch missing two straight free throws and giving up two turnovers. However the defense did not drop off and despite the Nuggets scoring struggles they clamped down on the Kings to keep them from getting too close. The starters checked back in with the lead around double digits and Harris immediately hit a tough fall away jumper. With five minutes to go in the half the Kings had still yet to hit a three in the game and trailed by thirteen. The Kings were over matched by the Nuggets starters, in particular at the three point line where Denver was making their shots. Bogdan Bogdanovic finally hit a corner three which gave Sacramento a little life but Malik Beasley, who was filling in for Harris while in foul trouble, knocked down a pair of threes. Jerami Grant put in a follow up dunk with .1 seconds to go and the Nuggets went into the half up seventeen.

Sacramento came out ready to play the second half and opened the third quarter with a 9-2 run. Denver was sloppy with the ball a couple times and the Kings were starting to hit their three point shots. Barnes knocked down another three with just over seven minutes to go to close the Nuggets lead to eight. Denver had way too many turnovers which let the Kings keep chipping away. Luckily, Sacramento wasn’t playing perfect so the Nuggets lead hovered right around nine for several minutes. Barnes in particular was giving the Nuggets trouble. He hit an and one to give him eighteen points on the game and pull the Kings within six points with five minutes to go. The Nuggets starters had gone ice cold from the floor and kept turning the ball over which fueled the Kings come back. Sacramento got as close as three points before getting a little sloppy right at the end of the quarter with a couple turnovers which kept Denver in front. Grant hit a big three in the last thirty seconds and the Nuggets closed the third up eight points.

Both teams opened with their bench units. Grant provided some offense for the Nuggets but they were struggling overall with more sloppy play. The Kings couldn’t hit shots though so the Nuggets lead stayed right about ten for the better part of four minutes. Malone stuck with his bench unit because they were keeping the Kings at bay but sometimes it felt like the Kings were keeping themselves at bay because they flat out couldn’t hit shots. Sacramento used a time out down ten with six minutes to go and started to shift momentum. Denver’s offense was stagnating and went over three minutes without a field goal. Jokic in particular could not get anything to go. However, the Kings still just couldn’t make shots. Hield was having one of his worst shooting performances of his career and time was starting to become a factor. The Nuggets clung to a seven point lead with two minutes to go when Hield finally hit a three to close it to four. The Nuggets wound the clock every time down which kept them in front by four with a minute to go before Hield hit another three to cap a 15-2 run. Jokic drew a shooting foul and hit one of two but Hield got to the rack for an easy layup to set up a final possession for the Nuggets with a chance to win. Denver wound it down for a final shot but Murray was blocked by Holmes. The Kings closed the quarter on a 17-3 run and the game headed to overtime.

Barnes sunk a basket to open overtime which gave the Kings their first lead of the game. Jokic responded by coming alive. First he had his patented one footed turn around jumper and then hit Harris for an open three. The Nuggets were sloppy with the basketball though and committed two turnovers with under two minutes to play. Barnes powered his way to a layup then forced a jump ball on the other end which the Kings recovered. The Nuggets were trailing by three with no timeouts and nine seconds to go after Hield knocked down two free throws. Murray took the ball down the court and inexplicably dribbled under the hoop with under a second to go. Nuggets fail to get off a shot and lose 100-97.

Best matchup: Will Barton vs Harrison Barnes

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Sacramento Kings Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

It was another steady game from Will Barton. He didn’t blow away the Kings with his scoring but was active on defense and the boards to end up with a double double to go along with five assists. Unfortunately he also had five turnovers and let Barnes go off. Barnes carried the Kings through their comeback bid and then sealed the victory for them. He scored twelve in the third quarter and six in overtime. Barnes highlights one of the things that Denver will always struggle with while starting Barton which is big small forwards. It wasn’t that Will was playing terrible defense, but Barnes got hot and with the size advantage became somewhat unstoppable.

Main thing I noticed: Sacramento had an awful night shooting

The Kings couldn’t buy a bucket for forty-six minutes of this game. The Nuggets played solid defense at times but there were plenty of times the Kings just flat out missed shots. Ultimately they would find their rhythm late and find a way to squeak out a victory but there’s an argument to be made they should have won this game in a blow out. I was worried about the Nuggets not coming out with energy in this game and that seemed to be the case. Take away the Kings poor shooting and Harris’ ridiculous first quarter run and Denver looks a lot worse in this.

Closing thought: that sucked

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Sacramento Kings Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Nuggets didn’t deserve to win this game and kudos to the Kings for hanging tough, fighting through a tough shooting night and finding a way to get a win. On the Nuggets side this loss is disappointing. They had a golden opportunity to steal one on the road and frittered it away. Jokic was non-existent, Harris disappeared in the second half and Murray needed sixteen shots to get fifteen points while having some brutal final possession execution...twice. In fact, Denver’s lack of execution overall in the second half was painful to watch. Hopefully the guys can get back on track with a big win at home against the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.