NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, December 28th (All times eastern)
Denver Nuggets (20-11) at Sacramento Kings (13-16), 10 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The struggling Denver Nuggets hope to right the ship without All-Star point guard Chauncey Billups Monday when they meet the improved Kings in Sacramento.
The Nuggets fell to 1-3 without Billups, who is battling a pesky groin problem, on Sunday when Drew Gooden led a balanced Dallas attack with 19 points as the Mavs captured a 104-96 win over Denver,
Kenyon Martin paced the Nuggets with 18 points and 11 rebounds and Carmelo Anthony added 16 and 12. Rookie Ty Lawson also scored 16 while Arron Afflalo and Nene had 13 points apiece for the Nuggets, who have lost four of their last five games.
Denver shot just 38.2 percent from the field en route to just its second home loss of the season.
"He takes a lot of pressure off of me," Anthony said of missing Billups. "The other team has to focus on him. When he's not here, it's like a sigh of relief for the other team."
Billups originally injured the groin on Dec. 16 against Houston and sat out three games before returning on Christmas Day at Portland. The groin flared up again as the Nuggets' leader couldn't play in the second half of that game and he is now expected to remain on the sidelines for the fifth time in six contests tonight.
The Kings, meanwhile, fell to 0-2 on a tough, four-game homestand with a 112-103 double overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday. Kobe Bryant poured in a game-high 38 points and made two key three-pointers in the second extra frame in that one.
Beno Udrih finished with 23 points and six assists for the Kings, who were coming off another overtime loss in the opener of the residency to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Rookie star Tyreke Evans tallied 18 points and five rebounds.
Donte Greene ended with 16 points and five boards while Omri Casspi had 15 points and 10 rebounds for Sacramento.
"We stopped being aggressive," Kings coach Paul Westphal said. "We started playing against the clock, which is not what we want to do. We started killing the clock before we got into our offense. As we grow we will learn to keep attacking with what got us the lead."
The Nuggets, who have dropped five straight on the road, won three of four games vs. the Kings last season.
12/28 10:32:16 ET