So the Nuggets had to settle for plenty of respect from the
Kings, who needed every bit of their offensive prowess in a tense
Stojakovic had 33 points and eight rebounds, and Mike Bibby
scored 18 points in the Kings' 14th straight home victory over
Denver, 117-106 on Sunday night.
Until Stojakovic ended a string of five straight misses by
hitting a dramatic 3-pointer with 55 seconds left, the Nuggets
seemed to be a few shots away from stealing a victory in the NBA's
toughest road arena. Denver handily outrebounded the Kings and got
tremendous performances from Andre Miller and rookie Carmelo
Count the Kings among those who believe the Nuggets are for real
-- and not just because of Denver's win over Sacramento two months
"It was a shootout, a great game," Stojakovic said. "They're
a good team. They're going to get a playoff spot, I think. It's a
lot different from playing them last year."
The Kings, who lead the league in points per game, had to rely
on offense: They scored at least 105 points for the fifth time in
six games, and Denver's defense couldn't catch up.
"They have the best record in the league and they're No. 1 and
No. 2 in every offensive category -- and yet we were still right
there," Denver coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "We're young. Go down the
list, this is a young basketball team. But we keep learning. This
was an education for us."
Andre Miller scored a season-high 30 points and Anthony had 22
points and 12 rebounds -- and seven turnovers -- in his first visit
to Sacramento. Nene nearly reached his career high with 20 points,
but Denver couldn't stop Sacramento's relentless offense long
enough to get closer than four points in the fourth quarter.
"We hung in there, but then, all we really did was (score in)
spurts," said Andre Miller, who was 11-of-17. "They were big
spurts, but they just ran away with the game. It's hard to stay in
it when you have their crowd into it."
Stojakovic, the NBA's second-leading scorer, had another strong
shooting game to lead six Kings in double figures.
He also showcased his growing hunger for taking big shots. After
Denver cut the Kings' lead to 111-106 in the final minutes,
Stojakovic held the ball on the right wing for what seemed to be an
eternity before hitting a long 3-pointer.
"I either had to shoot the ball or throw it out of bounds, so I
decided to shoot," Stojakovic said with a grin.
Tony Massenburg added 14 points for the Kings, making his final
six shots to lead Sacramento's fourth-quarter effort along with
"It's a good win, but we weren't consistent," Sacramento coach
Rick Adelman said. "We did a good job at times tonight, and then
we'd give them four or five easy baskets. ... (The Nuggets) are
going to be there at the end. They had a lot of confidence against
us. I can't see them going away. I just see them getting better."
In front of the 200th consecutive sellout crowd at Arco Arena,
Miller got one technical foul in the third quarter and another in
the fourth from whistle-happy referee Marc Davis, who also called a
fourth-quarter technical on Andre Miller while the Denver guard
wasn't even in the game.
Incensed when he didn't get a foul call while scoring a rebound
basket, Brad Miller gestured emphatically in Davis' direction to
draw his ejection. Miller then shouted at Davis and threw his
headband into the crowd before heading to the locker room.
The Kings extended their Pacific Division lead to a season-high
three games over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Sacramento's sellout streak is the longest in the NBA. ...
Anthony and Kings assistant coach Pete Carril were among those who
chuckled during a strange doo-wop rendition of the national anthem
by a local music group. ... Bibby banked in a long 3-pointer from
straightaway at the halftime buzzer to give Sacramento a 57-50
lead. ... Andre Miller, whose vertical leap is decidedly
unimpressive, got a rare dunk on a breakaway in the second quarter.