When: 8:00 p.m. MST
Where: Sacramento, California (Golden 1 Center)
Watch/listen: Altitude Sports Network and Altitude Radio 950 AM
The Denver Nuggets take on a struggling Sacramento Kings squad for their next stop on a three-game road trip. The Nuggets are looking to get back on track after falling apart in Los Angeles last night.
After a sloppy, somewhat controversial loss to the Lakers Sunday night, the Denver Nuggets (9-7) head north today for a match up with the Sacramento Kings.
The Nuggets are looking to rebound from that miserable 127-109 loss at the Staples Center in which they shot poorly and couldn’t stop the Lakers in the paint. That game also saw head coach Mike Malone and star center Nikola Jokic ejected in the first half for arguing with an official. To make things worse, the Nuggets lost Paul Millsap early in the game to a sprained left wrist. Malone and Jokic will be back in action Monday night, but Millsap will stay sidelined with his injury.
Despite a strong start to the season, Denver has looked noticeably worse on the road in most aspects of the game. The Nuggets are a good shooting team, but their field goal percentage plummets from 49.7 to 42. 9 when they leave the comfort of the Pepsi Center. They also average eight less assists per game when they play outside of the Mile High City. Put it all together and the Nuggets have only won two of their seven road games so far.
Luckily for Denver, they’re taking on a team that hasn’t excelled this season regardless of location. The Kings (4-12) have dropped four of their past five games including a 46-point loss to Atlanta on Wednesday. For Sacramento, the struggle has been rebounding, which they have failed to do consistently on both sides of the court. They’ve also failed to put together a competent defense, ranking 27th in the league in that category.
The key for the Nuggets will be to sink quality shots early and force Sacramento to stay on its toes. If Jamal Murray and Gary Harris come out firing like we’ve seen them do before, it could open up the whole floor for Denver’s powerful offense. If the Nuggets start the game by tossing bricks though, they’ll also have a hard time getting to the basket without Millsap down low.
Jokic will have his hands full going against a good, defensive-minded center in Willie Cauley-Stein. That being said, the joker is in good position to win the rebounding battle, something he’s been excelling at lately.
On defense, the Nuggets will once again be missing the services of Paul Millsap. That could harm Denver in the paint, where they were out-muscled by Brook Lopez and the Lakers. Without good rebounding though, the Kings may struggle to have the same efficiency in the post that LA did.
Denver’s guards will have to do a good job getting in front of the speedster De’Aaron Fox. The rookie is averaging a respectable 10.9 ppg and leading the team with 4.7 apg. His quickness may be a problem for Denver near the basket, but his perimeter shooting isn’t nearly as threatening.
With a good road win, the Nuggets can stay near the top of the Northwestern Division standings alongside Portland (9-7) and Minnesota (10-6). If Denver drops another one on the road, they’ll have to upset the Rockets in Houston to avoid going 0-3 on the road trip.
UPDATE: The NBA has announced Malone will be suspended for tonight’s game without pay. The punishment comes as a result of Malone’s confrontation with referee Rodney Mott against the Lakers. The announcement was made after the publication of this article.