Kings-Nuggets Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 26, 2013
The Denver Nuggets' recent surge has helped them move up a couple of spots in the Western Conference. They seem to have a good opportunity to push even higher up the standings over the next two weeks. The Nuggets, one of the league's best home teams, will play the first of a season-high six consecutive games at the Pepsi Center on Saturday night against the Sacramento Kings, a team they've dominated of late. Winning eight of 10 overall has helped Denver (26-18) improve from eighth to sixth in the West and move within one game of fifth-place Golden State. The Nuggets will try to continue their push by improving on a 16-3 home record and continuing their recent scoring binge. Denver is averaging 109.0 points over its last 10 games to raise its season mark to 103.2. The Nuggets outpaced another team that's among the highest-scoring clubs in the league, Houston, in a 105-95 road victory Wednesday in which they shot 55.0 percent in the second half. Ty Lawson led the way with 21 points, giving him 20 or more in four of the past six games, and Wilson Chandler had a season-high 20. "We've just got to keep playing like that," Lawson said. The Nuggets also performed well in their only previous matchup with Sacramento this season, a 122-97 road victory Dec. 16. They shot 54.1 percent and had six players in double figures, led by JaVale McGee's 19 points in 17 minutes off the bench. "We have to come out enthusiastic and energetic and play like we're playing Oklahoma City or San Antonio or the (Los Angeles) Clippers," forward Kenneth Faried told the Nuggets' official website. "We want to solidify a spot in the Western Conference as a (No.) 3 or 4 seed." Denver will try to take another step toward that goal with a seventh consecutive win over Sacramento (16-28) and an eighth in as many home matchups. The Nuggets had to go to overtime for a 119-116 victory the last time the Kings visited March 5. Faried had 20 points and 12 rebounds for Denver in that game while Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton scored 27 apiece for Sacramento. The Kings may need similar efforts to keep up Saturday given that the Nuggets have tallied at least 99 points in 20 consecutive games in this series, reaching the century mark in each of the past 10 at home. Sacramento doesn't appear poised to end that trend after allowing opponents to average 108.3 points during its three-game skid. "It's frustrating," center DeMarcus Cousins said. "I'm going to keep my mouth closed and stay positive." The Kings led by three points at the end of the first quarter Friday against visiting Oklahoma City but trailed by 19 entering the fourth in a 105-95 loss. "Our emphasis was to get out to a good start. We did that, but the NBA is a game of runs," forward Jason Thompson said. "In the third quarter, they made their run and we weren't hitting any baskets. That's how it got away from us." Evans scored 16 points for the fourth straight game but Sacramento shot just 41.9 percent, its worst performance during this losing streak. The Kings are shooting 41.7 percent on the road, where they are 4-16.
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