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Nuggets coach Michael Malone rips into his team after 120-113 loss to the Kings at Pepsi Center

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Posted at 11:22 PM, Jan 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-04 01:22:03-05

DENVER -- With star center DeMarcus Cousins producing as expected, Darren Collison broke out of his offensive funk and pushed the Sacramento Kings to a big road win.

Cousins had 31 points, Collison scored a season-high 26 to go with seven assists, and the Kings beat the Denver Nuggets 120-113 on Tuesday night.

Sacramento led most of the way to stop a two-game skid and win for the fifth time in seven games.

Collison was averaging just 8.4 points in the previous five games despite scoring 16 against Memphis on Saturday. He had 17 in the first half against Denver when Sacramento took the lead for good.

The Kings used a 15-0 run in the second quarter to take a 50-36 lead. Denver went nearly seven minutes without a field goal and missed 10 shots before Jusuf Nurkic hit a layup with 2:46 left before halftime.

Denver got within three in the fourth quarter and had chances to trim it to one or tie, but Sacramento kept extending the lead with Cousins on the bench.

The lead was five when he returned, and he helped the Kings push it to 11 with 2:22 left with assists on a 3-pointer by Arron Afflalo and a layup by Garrett Temple.

Denver was stung by former Nuggets players. Afflalo had 19 points off the bench in his return to the lineup, and Kosta Koufos scored 18.

Danilo Gallinari led Denver with 24 points and Nikola Jokic had 18. He and fellow big man Nurkic, who scored 16 off the bench, had trouble containing Cousins all night.

 

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone ripped into his team after the game. “Right now we have no leadership, we have no veteran leadership on this team stepping up,” Malone said. “I don’t hear anybody speaking, taking the lead. We have two young guys trying to speak up on the team’s behalf, which you applaud them but you need some leadership to shine and step up when we are struggling, which we are.” We have the worst defense in the NBA, that’s the bottom line. It’s embarrassing how we go out there and attempt to defend every night. That’s something that we have to try to fix as soon as possible because it’s at an all-time low right now. That is a huge concern of mine. It's a joke.”