NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, April 1st (All times eastern)
Denver Nuggets (45-29) at Sacramento Kings (21-53), 10 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Fresh off a perfect four-game homestand, the Denver Nuggets will hit the road for consecutive tilts, starting with tonight's showdown against the Sacramento Kings in the back end of a home-and-home set.
The Nuggets are coming off Wednesday's 104-90 victory over the Kings at the Pepsi Center, as Ty Lawson scored 20 points and both Danilo Gallinari and J.R. Smith each had 17 in a winning effort. Al Harrington added 15 points in Denver's 10th straight win in the Rocky Mountains.
"We played with more energy," Lawson said of the second half. "In the first half we were sluggish, not paying attention to detail. We changed that in the second half."
Nene ended with 12 points and 15 rebounds, including 10 on the defensive end, for the Nuggets, who won for the 14th time in 18 tries and sit firmly in the fifth spot in the Western Conference standings. The Nuggets can clinch a playoff spot with a win and a Houston loss tonight. The Rockets host the slumping Spurs in Space City.
Denver will also visit the Los Angeles Lakers on the quick trip and owns a 14-22 record away from the Rockies. It has dropped two in a row as the guest. In injury news for the Nuggets. guard Arron Afflalo (hamstring) and forward Kenyon Martin (flu-like symptoms) are both questionable for Friday.
The Nuggets are still alive for a Northwest Division title, but are five games behind Oklahoma City with eight to play.
Sacramento had a season-high four-game winning streak stopped with the recent loss to the Nuggets. Marcus Thornton led the way with 27 points and Tyreke Evans notched 22 points and seven assists off the bench for the Kings, who
Beno Udrih contributed 12 points and 10 assists in a losing cause.
"We ran out of gas," Kings head coach Paul Westphal said. "It kept us from pulling out a great win."
Kings rookie of the Year candidate DeMarcus Cousins netted 11 points and has scored in double digits in 15 of the past 16 games with eight double-doubles in that stretch. Evans is posting 12.3 points and 6.0 assists in his last four games -- all in a reserve role -- after missing the previous 19 contests with a case of plantar fascitis in his left foot.
Thornton has scored 20-plus points in nine of the last 11 games, averaging 24.5 points over that span. The Kings will also host Utah on the short homestand and are 10-27 in California's capital this season.
Denver has won two of the three matchups with the Kings this season and is 10-5 in the past 15 contests in this series. The Nuggets haven't fared too well in games played at Sacramento, losing four in a row and 24 of 27 contests there.
04/01 12:39:49 ET