The Denver Nuggets’ already slim hold on the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference playoff race narrowed even more on Thursday night with a road loss to the Sacramento Kings. Denver’s lead is now just a half-game after falling to the Kings on the road, 116-100, on Thursday night.

In their first game without DeMarcus Cousins, who was traded to New Orleans during the All-Star Break, Sacramento turned to Willie Cauley-Stein. The second-year center scored a career-high 29 points off the bench and had 10 rebounds in the victory. Buddy Hield, acquired in the trade for Cousins, had 16 off the bench.

Denver’s recent trade acquisitions didn’t fare as well. Roy Hibbert, acquired at the trade deadline in a trade with the Bucks, was not available to play. Mason Plumlee, who was traded for Jusuf Nurkic in one of the early moves near the trade deadline, scored 10 points but was -21 in his time on the floor. Nikola Jokic, who has averaged more than 18 points per game in February, was held to just four in the loss.

Denver has a short turnaround, as they host the Nets back at home on Friday night. Sacramento plays again on Saturday, hosting 24-33 Charlotte, so the Nuggets likely need a win against Brooklyn to hold on to the eighth seed. Things don’t get any easier for the Nuggets who host Memphis Sunday and then travel to Chicago and Milwaukee next week.