Billups, Nuggets cruise past KingsDec 7, 2008 - 7:50 AM By Tom Galland PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) -- The Denver Nuggets quickly put a 17-point home loss to the San Antonio Spurs behind them, turning around to deliver a lopsided loss to the reeling Sacramento Kings instead.
Chauncey Billups led a balanced attack with 24 points as the Nuggets bounced back in impressive fashion, sending the Kings to their eighth straight loss, 118-85, at Arco Arena on Saturday night.
Nene powered his way inside for 16 points, including five dunks, and picked up five steals and three blocks to lead a swarming Denver defense that held the Kings to 29 percent (29-of-99) shooting.
"Chauncey was fantastic," Denver coach George Karl said. "I thought Nene and Renaldo's defense on their big guys, trying to deflect them and pressure them, (got us) a few steals which caused open-court activity."
Balkman, who started in place of Kenyon Martin, who rested a sprained wrist, scored 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting while combining with Nene to lead a stifling interior defense that held Sacramento center Brad Miller scoreless and created numerous turnovers.
"The defense, we just played hard," said Nene, who is having his best season after the Nuggets parted ways with Marcus Camby in the offseason and gave him the starting center job.
"We did the right rotations and we pressured the ball. We lost (Thursday). We were angry so we came out from the first moment hard. The emphasis was on defense."
The loss was also the Kings' eighth straight at home, tying the all-time franchise mark for futility. Sacramento will need to stop the soaring Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night to avoid setting a new record.
The Nuggets used a 12-0 run early in the third quarter to remove what little doubt was left in the game. Billups hit three from the line and finished the stretch with a 3-pointer that made it 74-45 with just over eight minutes left in the third.
Sacramento posed no threat the rest of the way.
"Our defense has been really good," said Billups, who has steered the Nuggets to a 13-4 record since his arrival. "Our offense was good. We looked forward to this game since we played so poorly against San Antonio.
"We came into this game highly motivated. We knew that (Sacramento) finally got their team back (healthy). They were looking forward to this game, so it was big for us to start the game off looking good."
The win pushed the Nuggets (14-7) into a first-place tie with the idle Portland Trail Blazers in the Northwest Division.
John Salmons led the Kings with 22 points and rookie Jason Thompson added a career-high 15 rebounds.
"We've got to step our game up and cannot let stuff like this happen," Thompson said. "We can't go from having a close game against a good team to having another good team come in here and have a game like this, especially at home."
Denver carved up Sacramento's porous defense from the outset, connecting on 12-of-14 to start the game and open up a double-digit lead.
Nene converted three straight dunks, the last finished by a free throw for a three-point play that made it 18-6 just over four minutes into the contest. By the end of the first, Denver held a commanding 37-18 advantage.
The Nuggets led by 23 before the Kings rallied to cut the deficit to 11 midway through the second quarter.
But Denver regained the momentum and carried a 60-39 lead into the intermission, holding Sacramento to 27 percent shooting (14-of-52) in the process.
"There's no doubt in my mind that there's not a guy in (the locker room) that's not really angry about the way they played tonight," embattled Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "Nobody likes to be handled like that.
"I know the character in that room, and they're not happy about that."
SACRAMENTO 85 FINAL
Dec 7 12:31 AM
SACRAMENTO 62 END, 3RD QTR
Dec 7 12:02 AM
SACRAMENTO 39 HALFTIME
Dec 6 11:15 PM
SACRAMENTO 18 END, 1ST QTR
Dec 6 10:40 PM
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