NBA: Nuggets rely on balanced attack to hold off reeling Kings

Field Level Media via Reuters

Posted at Dec 30 2019 12:11 PM

Denver Nuggets guard Malik Beasley (25) controls the ball as Sacramento Kings forward Nemanja Bjelica (88) guards at the Pepsi Center. Isaiah J. Downing, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Rookie Michael Porter Jr. had a season-high 19 points in his first career start, Will Barton also had 19 points, and the host Denver Nuggets beat the Sacramento Kings, 120-115, on Sunday night.

Jerami Grant scored 18, Nikola Jokic had 17, Mason Plumlee had 15 off the bench and Jamal Murray had 13 points and seven assists for Denver.

Nemanja Bjelica had 27 points, Buddy Hield scored 20, De'Aaron Fox added 18 points and 13 assists and Richaun Holmes also scored 18 for the Kings, who have lost seven straight.

The Nuggets played without guard Gary Harris (left shin contusion) and forward Paul Millsap (left knee contusion).

Denver led by five at halftime but the Kings cut it to two on a 3-pointer from Bjelica midway through the period.

Jokic hit a floater in the lane, Barton made a step-back jumper and Grant drained a long 3-pointer to put the Nuggets ahead, 85-76, and they took an 88-81 lead into the fourth quarter.

Fox's layup in the first minute of the fourth kept it a seven-point game but Malik Beasley hit two jumpers and Monte Morris a layup on a feed from Plumlee to put Denver up, 96-83, with 9:19 left.

Sacramento called a timeout, scored the next four points, but then gave up a 3-pointer and a putback dunk to Porter that made it 101-87.

The Kings went on a 15-4 run to get within three late in the fourth but the Nuggets hit their free throws in the final minutes to hold off the charge.

The Kings looked like the fresher team early, leading by one after the first quarter and building a seven-point lead on Trevor Ariza's 3-pointer early in the second quarter.

Jokic picked up three fouls and played just 12 minutes in the first half, but the Nuggets rallied to take the lead on Porter's layup with 4:42 left. They increased the lead to seven late in the second quarter and settled for a 62-57 advantage at the half.

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