The Denver Nuggets faced a tall task of trying to beat the Sacramento Kings in their house after the Nuggets had just played in Los Angeles the previous night. The job proved to be more than they could take and the Kings used a big second quarter to take control of the game and never look back. They got a triple double out of Domantas Sabonis and an all round scoring effort to bury the Nuggets by the beginning of the second quarter. Nikola Jokic had a solid game but sloppy play and sloppy defense spelled doom for Denver. They end up getting blown out 135-106.

Denver started out playing good defense and kept the Kings off the scoreboard for the first two minutes of the game. Sacramento responded and went on a run to take the lead shortly after that. Denver went back and forth with the Kings through the middle of the first, Justin Holiday knocked down a pair of threes to give Denver a little boost. The defense was pretty strong to start the first but started to falter as the benches started checking in. Julian Strawther made his first appearance in over a month. The bench played strong to close out the quarter and built a lead for Denver but it was overshadowed by Jokic bumping knees with Strawther and going back to the locker room (he would be ok). To add insult to injury, Trey Lyles hit a three with under ten seconds to go and then Malik Monk stole the inbound and nailed another three to trim the Nuggets lead to 35-32.

The Kings quickly took the lead in the beginning of the second on a big Monk dunk. They held onto the small lead for a bit with the Nuggets bench struggling to find offense. They hung tough though and didn’t let Sacramento get any separation. The starters began to check back in but they were looking a little sluggish which let the Kings push the lead up to six. Denver stopped the bleeding there for a moment but they continued to make turnovers while the Kings continued to knock down three point shots. That was the story as the quarter closed out. At the half the Nuggets were trailing 67-57.

The start of second half was more of the same. The Nuggets continued to turn it over while Sacramento knocked down shot after shot. The Kings lead grew to fifteen and the Nuggets were in danger of getting blown out.  The lead continued to grow and the Nuggets looked frustrated, at one point Gordon slammed a towel down on the court during a timeout. Zeke Nnaji checked in for AG immediately after that and Gordon did not return to the game. Denver went on a mini-run and closed the gap a little bit but still trailed by fourteen. Every time it seemed like the Nuggets might get some momentum the Kings had the answer (or more accurately the Nuggets gave them an answer via turnover). With the quarter coming to a close it was looking like the fourth was going to be garbage time. By the time the third ended Denver was in serious trouble. They trailed by twenty.

The Nuggets started the fourth quarter by turning the ball over and giving up a layup which provoked a rage timeout from Malone. The Nuggets turned it over a couple more times, Malone called another timeout and it was time to pull the starters. Colin Gillespie checked in just after the nine minute mark for his first significant time in months. He ran with Christian Braun, Watson, Holiday and Nnaji for an extended bit but it didn’t really yield any different results. The Kings lead grew to embarrassing levels while even their deep reserves seemed to have a one up on Denver. Jay Huff got some minutes and it was all over. Nuggets lose an ugly one 135-106

Best Matchup: Nikola Jokic vs Domantas Sabonis

Feb 9, 2024; Sacramento, California, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) reacts after a play against Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox (5) while center Domantas Sabonis (10) controlled the ball during the second quarter at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The bigs battled tonight and it was Sabonis who got the best of the matchup. Jokic has had some huge scoring nights against Sabonis lately but he had a fairly ho-hum performance (still had 23 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists) and an early night with the game turning into a laugher by the fourth quarter. Sabonis meanwhile tallied a triple double to break his tie with Jokic for the league lead. He was active and energetic tonight and showed why he is considered one of the most skilled centers in the NBA.

Just a gross amount of turnovers

The Nuggets put forth one of their sloppiest efforts of the season tonight. It’s somewhat to be expected with them being on a back to back but it absolutely killed them in this one. They got so bad in fact that at the beginning of the fourth quarter Denver’s turnovers invoked double rage timeouts from Malone. It’s going to be some tough film to watch and I’m guessing coach is going to be none too pleasant at practice. No excuses for twenty turnovers in a game, not going to win any games like that.

Early night dooms the Thing to Bet

Jokic got one three tonight but was unable to secure his second as he only took one attempt. As we’ve seen time and again this season, blowouts can spell doom for overs. Perhaps if Jokic had got another 5-6 minutes tonight he would have buried a triple in the clutch and cashed out a winner for us. C’est la vie.