Mile High blues.
Riding high after a big win Sunday, the Sacramento Kings were sent back down to Earth on Tuesday night against the Denver Nuggets. Nikola Jokic and his versatile group of scorers took advantage of the Kings' porous defense, pulling away in the third quarter for a 126-112 win at Pepsi Center.
Eight Nuggets players scored in double figures, included a team-high 19 points from starting guard Jamal Murray in just 19 minutes of play. Denver shut it down late, turning to eight different reserves in the fourth, which allowed the Kings a chance to make the score look closer than the game actually was.
Here are six notes as the Kings fall to 1-3 on the season.
Marvin Bagley is developing with each game. The 19-year-old set new career highs in points (20) and rebounds (nine), barely missing his first career double-double. He also blocked five shots and continues to improve on the defensive side of the ball.
The Kings have a lot of young players, but Bagley is quickly standing tall in the crowded field.
Frank Mason wants minutes
Mason is fighting for time in a crowded backcourt, but he's taken full advantage of every opportunity he's received. The second-year point guard scored 14 points, dished out seven assists and grabbed five rebounds in 27 minutes of action.
He looks like a completely different player since returning from a stint with Team USA.
J-Jax looks confident
Justin Jackson made an impact in Sunday's win in OKC, and he backed it up with another quality performance against the Nuggets. Playing a reserve role, Jackson went to work early to finish with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field and 3-of-5 from long range. He added three assists, three rebounds and a steal in 27 minutes.
The Kings need more nights like this from the former North Carolina star.
De'Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield were really good through the Kings' first three games, but they vanished in Denver. Fox scored six points on 2-of-8 shooting over 20 minutes, and Hield added five points on 2-of-7 shooting.
With another game Wednesday in Sacramento, Joerger pulled the plug early on the duo. Hopefully they have a better showing against the Grizzlies in front of their home crowd.
Iman Shumpert, Nemanja Bjelica and Yogi Ferrell all scored in double figures against Denver. Shumpert didn't have the same impact he had against OKC, but he still managed to post 12 points on 2-of-5 shooting from long range. Bjelica and Ferrell each added 11 points, but it wasn't nearly enough.
By the numbers
The Kings allowed the Nuggets to shoot 51.5 percent from the field and knock down 11 3-point attempts on their way to 126 points. The lack of defense has been an issue throughout the team's first four games, and that trend might continue for a while.
On the plus side, Sacramento shot 52.3 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from deep. The Kings also shot 31 attempts from behind the arc, which is a big improvement. The Kings dished out 29 assists and turned the ball over 16 times, but they were dominated on the glass by a final tally of 49-39.