Sacramento Kings

Michael Malone’s All-Star break started early, but Kings couldn’t hold off Nuggets

Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone was ejected in the second quarter of Wednesday’s game against the Kings.
Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone was ejected in the second quarter of Wednesday’s game against the Kings. AP

Michael Malone voiced his displeasure with a foul call against one of his players. He was given an early start to the All-Star break.

The Denver Nuggets coach received two technical fouls and was ejected with 1:33 left in the second quarter, but the Kings couldn’t hold off the Nuggets, who rallied and then held on for a 120-118 win at Pepsi Center.

Denver was down 61-53 at the time of Malone’s dismissal, but a big third quarter got the Nuggets (39-18) back on track.

“I think they enjoyed me not being there,” Malone joked before adding, “I think our players know me, they know who I am. I am a fighter, I am a competitor. I didn’t like some of the calls that were not being called and I am going to stick up for my players.”

With the score tied at 118, Nikola Jokic tipped in his own miss with 0.8 seconds left. He had his 12th triple-double of the season with 20 points, 18 rebounds and 11 assists.

“That’s why he’s an All-Star,” said Buddy Hield, who led the Kings (30-27) with 25 points. “He’s done a hell of a job all year and in his career, so he deserves it.”

Hield got a shot away off an inbound pass as time expired, but his 3-point attempt hit front iron and bounced away. Had it gone in, it would have been his second game-winning shot at the buzzer.

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Noel Harris is a sports reporter for The Sacramento Bee, with a focus on the Kings. He’s been in professional journalism for more than 18 years. His roles have included sports editor at The Modesto Bee and news editor at two smaller California newspapers, as well as online producer and copy editor.
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