Barton leads the charge as Nuggets top Kings in return from the All-Star break

Feb 24, 2022; Sacramento, California, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Will Barton (5) reacts to a call during the fourth quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

A powerful fourth quarter by the Denver Nuggets helped them close out a tough battle against the Sacramento Kings and win it 128-110 in their return from the All-Star break.

Will Barton put up a season-high 31 points on 11 of 17 from the field and 3 of 6 from beyond the arc. He was also a perfect 6 of 6 from the free throw line.

“I didn’t take time off,” Barton said. “I worked out everyday but what the break did for me mentally was refocusing on what I had to do for the team and what our goals are and just being able to be ready for this next run.”

Barton secured head coach Michael Malone’s 300th win as coach of the Nuggets and did so at his old stomping grounds where he was unfairly fired after one season in 2014.

“It felt good, I told him before the game joking with him saying this was the house that Michael Malone built,” Barton said. “I remember when he first got the job and I first met him and I told him that I felt like he shouldn’t have gotten fired in Sacramento. I thought that last year he was doing a good job.”

Nikola Jokic added 25 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists while Monte Morris had 19 points. As a team, the Nuggets shot 56% from the field and 43% from beyond the arc.

Denver took an early 16-10 lead in the first quarter behind Barton’s nine points. The Kings tied it up at 20 with five minutes left to go but the Nuggets responded with an 8-0 run to take a 28-20 lead and then a 7-3 run to close out the quarter.

The Kings went on an early 10-0 run and eventually tied it up at 40 with 8:06 left in the second. But every time Sacramento made a run, Denver would respond, not allowing them to take the lead. Jokic scored 10 points in the quarter. Sabonis scored 12 points for Sacramento and kept the game within reach but the Nuggets took a 63-58 lead at the half.

The Nuggets were the aggressors to open the third and went on a 12-0 run to take a 79-65 lead. The Kings answered with an 8-2 run of their own led by Sabonis’ 10 points. Denver took a timeout but Sacramento responded with another run to make it a two point game with 1:52 left. JaMychal Green stopped the bleeding after hitting a much needed 3-pointer and the Nuggets went up 90-87.

Denver opened the fourth quarter with consecutive 3-pointers from Austin Rivers and Bryn Forbes to go up 98-87. Green then scored seven straight points for the Nuggets to give them a 105-94 lead with 8:05 left. Denver followed it up with a 7-0 run to take a 113-96 lead with 5:26 left. The Nuggets kept attacking and outscored the Kings 36-23 in the quarter. They shot 69 percent from the field and 68 percent from beyond the arc to secure the 128-110 win.

It wasn’t Denver’s best basketball through the first three quarters but it was a great way to open things back up after having over a full week off for the All-Star break. With Wednesday nights win, the Nuggets improve to a 34-25 record and sit in sixth place in the Western Conference standings. They are a season-high nine games above .500.
Sabonis led all scorers with 33 points and also had 14 rebounds.

As a team the Kings shot 50% from the field and 31% from beyond the arc.

The Nuggets will face the Kings again on Saturday at Ball Arena before heading the Portland on Sunday to take on the Trail Blazers.

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