The Denver Nuggets got out to a hot start against the Sacramento Kings with a 6-0 start in the first 90 seconds of the game. They continued their run over the next two minutes, and they were leading 12-3 with 8:39 to go in the first. The Nuggets were firing on all cylinders early with a 22-10 start six minutes into the game while shooting an impressive 83.3 percent from the floor. One troubling early stat though was Nikola Jokic picking up his second foul of the game with 6:04 remaining in the first quarter. The strong quarter continued, and the team added a flurry of late points with three triples from Michael Porter Jr. and Vlatko Cancar. Denver would head into the second quarter leading 40-24 while shooting 71.4 percent from the floor and 6-of-10 from 3-point range.
Recap of what MPJ did in the first ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/l2yWTX7wYe— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) December 29, 2022
The Nuggets started the second quarter with a lot of the second unit on the floor, and the team was really struggling on both ends of the floor. Their lead rapidly dwindled down to just eight with 8:30 to go in the half. Around a minute later, Jokic was re-inserted into the game, and the Nuggets went on a run to make their lead 18 at one point. The two sides traded buckets with the Nuggets eventually leading by 19, but the Kings scored a late burst of points to make it a 13-point game with Denver leading 75-62 at the half.
Joker doin' Joker stuff at the half— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) December 29, 2022
20PTS, 5 REB, 5 AST pic.twitter.com/WS6qsRTJtU
The Nuggets started the second half strong, but things quickly took a turn for the worse. They were struggling to take care of the basketball, and they couldn’t hit any of their open shots. The Kings went on a 13-7 run over the first four minutes of the quarter, and they were within seven in the blink of an eye. Whatever Michael Malone said in the timeout must have gotten through to the Nuggets because they went on an 18-9 run over the next five and a half minutes of game time. Just as soon as they got to the end of that huge run, the Kings came storming back led by Malik Monk who finished the quarter with a floater in the lane, and he was up to 25 points on the night off of the bench in just 22 minutes. Denver was leading 105-94 heading into the fourth.
Bones gettin' a little Bizzy rn— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) December 29, 2022
He's got 18 midway in the 3rd pic.twitter.com/SfyCOE5Xm5
The two teams traded blocks and missed shots to start the fourth quarter before Monk got another triple to fall, and the Kings were within eight. After 2.5 minutes in the fourth, the Nuggets got their first points with a big triple from rookie Christian Braun. The Kings were chipping away at the Nuggets’ lead with Jokic still on the bench. Jokic and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope re-entered the game with 6:21 to go and the Nuggets leading 112-104. Coming out of the foul by Vlatko, the Kings went on a 6-0 run in the next minute, and they were within two with 5:13 remaining. After watching the team’s lead dwindle away, Jokic appeared frustrated with the way the offense was running. He was making sure the ball was in his hands on every single possession, and he and Domontas Sabonis were trading baskets. The Nuggets’ offense, without Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon was struggling to operate in the clutch, and they weren’t getting the stops on the other end to make up for it. With 1:46 to go in the game, the Kings generated a turnover, and they tied the game up at 122 with all of the momentum in their favor. KCP had his shot blocked, and the Kings took their first lead of the game on a mid-range jumper by De’Aaron Fox. With 27.8 seconds left on the clock, Fox was called for an offensive foul which gave Denver the chance to take the lead late in the game. Jokic missed an easy jumper, and Monk was at the free-throw line where he went 1-of-2 with 0.7 seconds remaining to try and salvage the game they once led by 19 points. Jokic had a tough shot from the top of the arc that fell short, and the Nuggets lost 127-126 despite a 40-point effort from Jokic for their first loss of the season when scoring 120 or more points.
Points: Nikola Jokic - 40
Assists: Bones Hyland - 1
Rebounds: DeAndre Jordan, Michael Porter Jr. & Jokic - 7
Player of the Game: Nikola Jokic - 40 points, 6 assists, 7 rebounds, 15-of-24 field goal, 0-of-3 3-point, 10-of-10 free throw