RICH PEDRONCELLI / Associated Press

The Kings' DeMarcus Cousins (15) is fouled by the Nuggets' Kosta Koufos, left, as Denver's Kenneth Faried converges in the third quarter.

Kings suffer ugly loss to Nuggets

Published: Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 - 6:42 am

Kings coach Keith Smart called it a "horror story."

That's putting it mildly.

The Kings turned in one of their worst efforts of the season Sunday, getting embarrassed by the Denver Nuggets 122-97 at Sleep Train Arena.

Sacramento fell behind big early and wasn't competitive.

The Kings trailed by as many as 34 points, allowed a season high in points, shot a season-worst 34.1 percent (31 of 91) and tied their season low for assists with 13.

By the end of the third quarter with the Kings down by 30 points, fans began leaving.

"You just apologize," Kings point guard Aaron Brooks said. "They shouldn't have to pay to watch that."

The Kings lost their fourth game in a row, all by double digits, after a season-best three-game winning streak. They were hard pressed to come up with reasons for their downturn.

"Maybe complacency," Brooks said. "… We've got to watch some film to see the difference. Playing some better teams, that could be it. But we're not getting nearly as many assists. I think I have to do a good job of pushing the tempo and getting us easy shots in transition. That starts with me."

The Kings are 7-16, the second-worst record in the Western Conference.

Forward John Salmons said the Kings needed to change their approach to find consistency.

"Just playing with a sense of urgency knowing that this season is slipping away," Salmons said. "Make every minute count, every game count. We've got to play like we want to make a run for the playoffs. At some point, we've got to make a stand."

The Kings' inability to execute on offense and defense falls back on the players, Brooks said.

"I don't think there's anything the coach can say, and I feel bad for the coach because it's the players," Brooks said. "He's putting us in position to be successful, and we've got to reward him with our hustle and our desire, and I don't think we showed that.

"We let little things get us down and take us out of our game as far as refs and things like that. I could go on about that, but I'd probably get fined. We've got to bring our intensity."

It didn't help that guard Tyreke Evans, bothered by his sore left knee, left after just 10 minutes. He'd played two games after missing five of six games because of the injury.

"It just wasn't working for (Evans)," Smart said. "He tried and he tried, but it just didn't work. We didn't want to push him through something that he couldn't do."

Usually when the Kings' energy is down, Smart turns to rookie forward Thomas Robinson. But he didn't play in the first half while the Kings dug themselves a hole.

Guard Jimmer Fredette, the Kings' best perimeter shooter, also sat out the first half while his teammates struggled from the floor.

"They got in the game when they got in the game," Smart said when asked why both players didn't enter until the second half.

Smart offered no further explanation.

"It was the decision I made at that time," he said.

Robinson was noticeably down after the game. He said he didn't know why he didn't play in the first half as he normally does, nor did he get an explanation.

"I don't know," Robinson said. "I don't ask him for anything really anyways. I'm over it."

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