If the Sacramento Kings have any chance of making the postseason, they’ll have to beat the teams they are supposed to and then steal a few they shouldn’t. On Tuesday night in Denver, the Kings did just that, holding on to knock off the Nuggets at the Pepsi Center by a final of 114-110 to improve to 24-31 on the season.
It didn’t matter how many different looks the Nuggets threw at DeMarcus Cousins, he still found a way to dominate. After dropping 37 points and 20 rebounds on Denver on Friday night, he posted 39 points on 14-for-23 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds on Tuesday. In addition to his big offensive night, Cousins’ steal in the final seconds of the game sealed the win for Sacramento.
Rudy Gay and his former Memphis Grizzlies teammate Darrell Arthur went at each other for a while, but eventually the Kings forward was too much to handle. Gay stuffed the stat sheet, posting up 16 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, four steals and three blocks.
Omri Casspi missed the previous matchup between these two teams after having his wisdom teeth removed over the All-Star break. He gave the Kings a major spark off the bench, finishing the night with 14 points and nine rebounds in 23 minutes.
Quincy Acy picked up his second straight start and brought an energy and intensity that the Kings have been missing for much of the season. Acy didn’t score and only grabbed three rebounds as Sacramento’s starting power forward, but he brought his lunch pail to work on the defensive end and tied his career-high with three blocked shots.
Willie Cauley-Stein added 10 points and two blocks and Rajon Rondo picked up 12 assists, bringing him to within two of Reggie Theus’ single-season franchise record of 39 double-digit assist nights.
Eight Nuggets scored in double-figures, led by Will Barton, who scored 14 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter as the Nuggets fought to stay in the game. Danilo Gallinari went for 17, but shot just 5-of-14 shooting.
Big man Nikola Jokic added 13 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in just 20 minutes of action. Arthur chipped in 14 and Kenneth Faried put up 13 points and seven rebounds as the Nuggets fell to 22-35 on the season.
The Kings need this version of DeMarcus Cousins each and every night down the stretch if they are going to get back in the playoff conversation. Cousins was a star, finishing with his 20th 30-point effort of the season.
With the game tied at 107-107, Cousins picked the pocket of D.J. Augustin. The veteran guard had no choice but to foul the big on the break. Cousins hit both and the Kings never trailed again.
For the first time in a while, the Kings entered the night with 13 healthy bodies and left the same way.
The Kings are back at it again on Wednesday when they fly home to take on the 47-9 San Antonio Spurs.