April 1, 2011
DENVER (45-29) vs.KINGS (21-53)
Coverage begins at 7 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California
SACRAMENTO (AP) -- While the Denver Nuggets usually take care of business at home against the Sacramento Kings, it's been a different story playing them in California.
Seeking a fifth consecutive win overall, the Nuggets hope to avoid a 25th loss in 28 road games against the Kings when the teams finish a home-and-home set Friday night.
Denver (45-29), sitting fifth in the Western Conference, improved to 13-4 since shipping Carmelo Anthony to New York prior to the trade deadline with a 104-90 victory over Sacramento on Wednesday night.
The Nuggets are outscoring opponents by 17.5 points during their four-game win streak.
While they've won five straight and 11 of 14 at home in this series, they have lost four in a row at Sacramento while giving up an average of 111.0 points. Denver has dropped 24 of 27 there, including a 122-102 defeat Jan. 6 as Kings rookie DeMarcus Cousins and guard Tyreke Evans combined for 47 points.
Sacramento (21-53) led by as many as 13 on Wednesday but was outscored 63-39 in the second half and had a four-game winning streak snapped.
"Beating a team back-to-back in the NBA is a difficult challenge," coach George Karl told the Nuggets' official website. "I don't care what the records say. They beat us in Sacramento and kind of embarrassed us a little bit on national TV, so they are not afraid of us."
With Anthony out of the picture, the Nuggets' willingness to play as a team has largely contributed to their recent success.
Denver is averaging 24.7 assists since the deal - tied for the fourth-most in the league since the All-Star break - and 3.5 more than it averaged before the blockbuster trade.
"I compare it to when I was in college," said guard Raymond Felton, who helped lead North Carolina to the 2005 NCAA championship.
"We had a team full of good players. Everybody can score. We just kind of came together. Everybody didn't care who was scoring or who was getting the shots. We were worrying more about winning. We had a lot of success that way and that's what's happening so far here."
The Kings also have done a good job spreading the ball around since getting Evans back in the lineup. They've averaged 25.8 assists in four games since the reigning Rookie of the Year returned after missing 19 with a foot injury.
Evans had 22 points Wednesday while Marcus Thornton led Sacramento with 27. Thornton is averaging 22.4 points since he was acquired from New Orleans at the trade deadline and is pleased with the Kings' recent progress.
"We are jelling as a team," said Thornton, averaging 27.7 points in the last three games. "It all comes together having a young team we are picking up momentum going into the next season."
Denver, scoring an NBA-best 107.6 points per game, has averaged just 90.0 on 39.7 percent shooting en route to back-to-back road losses. The Nuggets are 1-13 away from home when scoring less than 100 points.
Forward Kenyon Martin left in the first quarter Wednesday with flu-like symptoms and his status for Friday is unknown. Guard Arron Afflalo, though, is expected to return after missing four games with a strained left hamstring.