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Kings' defense continues to falter in loss to Nuggets

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Although the Sacramento Kings were playing without their two leading scorers, coach Michael Malone wasn't concerned about the offense.

Scoring usually isn't a problem for Sacramento, which has multiple players capable of getting hot.

Defense, however, usually is a problem.

Such was the case Sunday as the Kings suffered their third consecutive loss, falling 125-117 to the Denver Nuggets at Sleep Train Arena.

Sacramento played its second consecutive game without starters DeMarcus Cousins (sprained left ankle) and Rudy Gay (strained left Achilles).

The Kings compensated with six players scoring in double figures. But the Nuggets did, too, and seemed to get to the rim whenever they wanted.

That was enough to overcome whatever Sacramento did on offense. The Nuggets scored at least 30 points in every quarter as the Kings allowed a season high in points.

Denver made 42 field goals, and, by Malone's count, 28 were layups.

The Kings also allowed a season-high 33 fast-break points and gave up 58 points in the paint to a team that lacks a dominant post presence.

"I couldn't get over the amount of layups," Malone said. "If a team's going to score on you and they're going to beat you, that's one thing. But when they're constantly getting layup after layup, that has to (tick) you off after a while, and it never (ticked) our guys off."

Several Nuggets gave the Kings reason to be mad.

Denver point guard Ty Lawson scored a game-high 27 points to go with six assists. Nate Robinson came off the bench to add 12 points and a team-high eight assists.

Backup center Timofey Mozgov made all five of his shots and finished with 14 points. Wilson Chandler had 20 points and five assists.

"We have no problem scoring the ball," Kings guard Marcus Thornton said. "It's locking in (defensively) and helping one another. I think sometimes we got locked into our man like we're not going to let our man score (instead of) helping each other. We have to get better at that as a team."

The defensive lapses weren't from a lack of preparation. Guard Isaiah Thomas said the coaching staff had emphasized getting back on defense and guarding the paint.

"It just seemed like we did the opposite of that," Thomas said. "We closed out too hard on their guys and gave up driving lanes. We didn't make them beat us from the 3-point line like we wanted them to."

Thomas led the Kings with 22 points, shooting 7 of 21, with eight assists. Thornton had 19 points. Ben McLemore added 18 points off the bench.

Both teams shot 42 of 81 (51.9 percent), but the Kings gave up 22 points off turnovers -- 20 points coming in the first half.

Sacramento has allowed an average of 120 points during its three-game losing streak.

(c)2014 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)

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