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Kings cash in on Cauley-Stein’s seven steals, active defense to beat Nuggets

Dave Joerger talks about Kings victory against Nuggets

Sacramento Kings coach Dave Joerger discusses the team's 106-98 win against the Denver Nuggets Jan. 6 at Golden 1 Center.
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Sacramento Kings coach Dave Joerger discusses the team's 106-98 win against the Denver Nuggets Jan. 6 at Golden 1 Center.

Active defense helped the Kings end a three-game losing streak as they defeated the Denver Nuggets, 106-98, Saturday night at Golden 1 Center.

The Kings (13-25) forced 26 turnovers and scored 26 points off them, both season highs.

De’Aaron Fox led six Kings in double figures with 18 points, adding seven assists. Willie Cauley-Stein had 17 points and a career-high seven steals.

Trey Lyles led Denver (21-18) with 19 points. Jamal Murray added 18 points.

The Kings were without forward Zach Randolph (oral surgery) and point guard George Hill (personal reasons). Rookie point guard Frank Mason III (bruised right heel) missed his second consecutive game.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Going young can work to start

The Kings started Fox, Buddy Hield, Malachi Richardson, Skal Labissiere and Cauley-Stein. Fox is a rookie, Cauley-Stein is in his third season and the rest are second-year players.

Unlike previous attempts, the young lineup worked out early – the Kings weren’t down big to start the game as has often been the case, and they led 29-27 after the first quarter. The Kings could have built a bigger cushion, given Denver’s high rate of turnovers, but it’s still progress from a team that looked out of sorts early in the season when it went young.

Three days off helped a lot

After looking sluggish in three consecutive losses, the Kings showed a lot more energy Saturday, even when the play appeared sloppy. The defense was much more active and intense.

The Kings cannot expect to force 20-plus turnovers a night, but they can repeat the kind of intensity they showed against the Nuggets.

But you still need the old guys

Vince Carter helped keep things together late in the game.

Carter, who turns 41 this month, played 31 minutes and had 12 points and eight rebounds off the bench. He remains a stabilizing force coach Dave Joerger trusts late in games.

Given the Kings were without two point guards, Carter can also help lead the Kings on offense and defense.

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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