After an upset road win at the Staples Center on Sunday over the Clippers, expectations were raised for the Kings in Denver for the second game of the first back-to-back of the season.
It wasn’t pretty but Sacramento got its second consecutive road win, pulling out a 110-105 victory in Denver to deliver an improbable 3-1 start to the 2014-15 campaign.
Ray McCallum’s layup off a feed from Jason Thompson gave Sacramento a 98-96 lead with 3:18 to go, a lead the Kings never relinquished.
Then Rudy Gay produced a 3-point play in an isolation set to push the Kings lead to 101-96 with 2:19 left in the fourth.
However, it got interesting for Sacramento when Omri Casspi fouled Wilson Chandler on a 3-point attempt with 25.6 seconds to go and Chandler drainied all three free throws to close the gap to 105-103.
However, Rudy Gay answered two free throws to extend the Kings lead to four with 22.5 seconds remaining.
Sacramento got a stop on Denver’s ensuing possession and Darren Collison secured the defensive rebound while fouled by the Nuggets.
The former UCLA Bruin made one of two free throws before a JaVale McGhee dunk.
Collison returned to the line with 8.7 seconds to go making both free throw attempts to make it 110-105 in favor of the Kings, the ultimate final score.
The Kings and Nuggets engaged in a sluggish first quarter at the Pepsi Center marked by poor shooting - both teams were six of 23 from the floor as Denver eked out a 22-19 lead.
Led by Darren Collison’s nine points, Sacramento responded in the second quarter outscoring Denver by 32-24, to take a 51-46 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Sacramento’s bench, which struggled Sunday versus the Clippers, contributed 22 points in the first half and 21 of the Kings 51 points came via the free throw line.
Denver went on a 7-3 run to begin the second half fueled by an Afflalo 3-pointer, a JaVale McGee jumper and a Faried slam to close the gap to 54-53 forcing Michael Malone to call a timeout at the 9:45 mark of the third quarter.
The Kings led by as many as seven points in the third stanza but clung to a two-point lead at the end of the third quarter 79-77 after six lead changes and six ties.
However, it was a gutty fourth quarter for Sacramento that proved to be the watershed moment of the night.
Darren Collison led the Kings with 21 points, six assists and four rebounds.
Tied with 3:18 to go, the Kings got stops and executed down the stretch, outscoring Denver 14-9 to finish off the road win.
For Sacramento, there were no injuries to report.
For Denver, Ty Lawson sidelined with an ankle injury listed as day-to-day but started and played over 30 minutes versus Sacramento.
The Kings and Nuggets reconvene in Sacramento on Wednesday to complete the home-and-home matchup.