The Nuggets couldn't have asked for a better start to their season long six game home stand as they ran past the struggling Kings tonight 121-93 at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets took advantage of a selfish Kings team that seemed to be more worried about moving to Seattle then playing basketball. Denver sought to take control of a favorable home schedule in January and the team has met George Karl's goal of 10 wins on the month.
There have been games this year where the Nuggets have played down to their competition, throwing home games to Minnesota and Washington. Tonight looked as if it could be another slugfest as the Nuggets started the game shooting poorly and playing sloppy basketball in the opening minutes and falling behind the Kings 8-7 at the first break. And then Ty Lawson happened. Coming out of that break, the Nuggets went on an 11-0 run, spurred on by two thunderous dunks by Kenneth Faried. The Nuggets never trailed again in the game, as they closed the First Quarter on a 32-17 scoring run to take a 39-25 lead, led by Lawson's 15 points (3/3 from distance) and 6 assists. The Nuggets set a season high with 71 points at the half.
Defense was the main reason for the huge run during the 1st quarter as the Nuggets forced the Kings into many poor passes on their way to 13 fast break points. The Nuggets have made a concerted effort to force more turnovers and play more stifling D and are now 10th in the NBA in steals, including leading the league in that category since Wilson Chandler's return from injury. The big men were also able to hold the Kings best player, DeMarcus Cousins, in check. Cousins entered the game as a 20-10 player since returning from his suspension, but was only able to muster 3 points on 1-6 shooting and 2 rebounds. Faried brought his usual energy and barely missed out on adding to his double - double total on the season with 11 points and 9 rebounds. Kosta Koufos chipped in 10 points and 5 rebounds. When the Nuggets big men are able to dominate matchups like this, the Nuggets are a scary team. The Nuggets were able to outrebound the Kings by 11, 51-40.
Ty Lawson Lead the Nuggets with 26 points on 11-15 shooting (4/5 from three) and also added 6 assists and 4 steals. Andre Iguodala was not far behind, with 20 points on 8-15 shooting and had the highlight of the night on a sweet one handed alley oop pass from Danilo Gallinari (14 points, 3 assists). George Karl had this to say on his back court duo "I can't deny the starters deserve a lot of credit tonight's game, our bench has been great but this game, especially A.I. and Ty, they played well offensively and defensively and made the game easy." The Nuggets are at their best when they have multiple players contributing buckets and the team is sharing the ball. Andre Miller led the team with 9 assists, as they were a +14 on the King in that category, accumulating 34 assists on the night.
The Nuggets will look to continue their hot month against the Indiana Pacers on Monday at 7PM at the Pepsi Center.