Kings-Nuggets Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 04, 2012
The Denver Nuggets played well in their back-to-back-to-back stretch. The Sacramento Kings are hoping things start looking up after a rough start to theirs. The Nuggets will try to keep their perfect home record intact when they face the Kings on Wednesday night. Denver (4-2) opened a stretch of three games in three nights with a 92-89 road loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, but bounced back with a 99-90 win over the Lakers the following night before recording a 91-86 victory over Milwaukee on Monday. The Nuggets, playing without starting forward Nene (bruised heel), showed signs of fatigue, shooting 39.8 percent while committing 16 turnovers, but outscored the Bucks 23-12 in the fourth quarter. Danilo Gallinari finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds while Ty Lawson had 16 points and six assists. "They didn't look like they had three games in three nights,'' Milwaukee's Stephen Jackson said. ''That says a lot about how good of shape they're in, and they didn't have Nene, so you've got to credit them for that.'' The win was Denver's third in as many home games this season. They shut down the Bucks in the fourth quarter after holding the Lakers to 19 points in the final period on Sunday. Those teams shot a combined 40.9 percent and were 9 of 42 (21.4 percent) from 3-point range. "In the fourth quarter it's very easy to find extra energy,'' Gallinari said of feeding off the crowd. "You have a tight game, you want to win, especially at home.'' Gallinari has elevated his play of late, collecting 41 points, 14 rebounds and five steals in the last two games. He had 34 points and 14 boards in his three previous contests. The Nuggets may need another big game from him if Nene is sidelined again Wednesday, although Al Harrington has been playing effectively off the bench. He had 17 points and eight boards Monday and is averaging 15.7 points and 6.5 rebounds. Like Denver, Sacramento (2-4) began its back-to-back-to-back series with a 113-96 loss to Memphis on Tuesday, but it could have a tougher time bouncing back. The Kings were outscored 31-17 in the first quarter, shooting 5 of 20. Rookie Jimmer Fredette scored a season-high 17 points, shooting 4 of 6 from 3-point range, while J.J. Hickson contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds. DeMarcus Cousins came off the bench and had four points and eight rebounds in 22 minutes. Cousins was told on Sunday to stay away from the team by coach Paul Westphal after demanding a trade. "I wouldn't say it's resolved," Westphal said before the game. "We will see how it plays out. I think DeMarcus has to continue to show maturity and a desire to go the same direction as his teammates. We're all hoping that happens." Cousins is third on the team with 11.2 points per game and adds 10.6 rebounds. Sacramento will close this three-game stretch Thursday against Milwaukee. The Kings starters should be rested after Westphal pulled most of them early Tuesday. No starter played more than 27 minutes. The Kings have lost four of five overall against the Nuggets and five straight in Denver since a 118-115 win on April 5, 2008.
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