The Sacramento Kings gave the Miami Heat all they could handle Friday night before fading in the final minute. Following the game they boarded a plane for Denver where they’ll be back at it again on Saturday against their former head coach Michael Malone and his Nuggets.
George Karl will have to try a new combination or two in Denver. DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, Marco Belinelli and Omri Casspi are out and Willie Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufos are dinged up and listed as questionable. Karl still has players to choose from, but this isn’t an ideal situation.
The Nuggets made a late run and are a game and a half ahead of Sacramento in the standings at 32-45. They aren’t in the playoff hunt in the last two weeks of the season, but it’s not for lack of trying. This is a well coached team that battles for a full 48 minutes.
Nuggets by 9.5
WHERE THEY STAND:
Kings: 30-46, third place in Pacific
Nuggets: 32-45, fourth place in Northwest
MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Darren Collison vs. Emmanuel Mudiay -- Collison will start for Rondo at the point and it might be a better matchup for Sacramento. Mudiay is finishing his rookie year strong, but Collison will try to use his speed and quickness to force the youngster into mistakes, which he’s prone to make.
Kings: F Omri Casspi (strained right hamstring) out, C DeMarcus Cousins (rest) out, PG Rajon Rondo (rest) out, SG Marco Belinelli (sore right foot) out, F-C Willie Cauley-Stein (left shoulder strain, sore right wrist) questionable, C Kosta Koufos (left knee contusion) questionable.
Nuggets: SF Danilo Gallinari (right knee) out, F Wilson Chandler (hip) out, C Jusuf Nurkic (illness) questionable.
This is the final matchup between these two teams this season, with the Kings holding a 2-0 advantage. The Nuggets holds a 86-85 advantage over the Kings overall and the hold a slight lead at 62-61 during the Sacramento-era.
“Losing never feels good, but the fight we put up in the second half, the energy we put into the game and the commitment to try to make it a defensive game, was pretty impressive.” -George Karl following the team;s loss on Friday night