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Nuggets lost their first game back from the All-Star break, 116-100 to the Kings in Sacramento

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Posted at 11:22 PM, Feb 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-24 01:22:10-05

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Willie Cauley-Stein had a career-high 29 points and 10 rebounds to help the Sacramento Kings, playing for the first time since trading DeMarcus Cousins, beat the Denver Nuggets 116-100 on Thursday night.

The Kings made a blockbuster deal Sunday, trading the all-Star Cousins to New Orleans. The controversial, often petulant star spent seven seasons with the Kings, who haven't had a winning record or made the playoffs since 2005-06.

Newcomers Buddy Hield scored 16 points and Tyreke Evans had 15 for the Kings, Darren Collison had 15 points and 10 assists. Seldom-used rookie Skal Labissiere had a season-high 12 points and Ben McLemore 10.

Gary Harris made five 3-pointers and had 23 points for Denver. Wilson Chandler had 18 points and 10 rebounds, Will Barton scored 16, Danilo Gallinari had 15, and Jameer Nelson 12.

The Nuggets have lost two straight overall and five of six on the road, where they are 10-19 this season.

Their fifth victory in six games moved the Kings within a half-game of Denver for eighth place in the Western Conference. The Nuggets have dropped five straight to the Kings, including two this season.

Minus Cousins, the Kings are lacking a legitimate go-to player. Yet it didn't seem to matter as the Kings received contributions from numerous players. Eight players scored eight or more points and Kings shot 52 percent.

Typically a struggling first-half team, the Kings shared the ball, hustled at the defensive end, and used 11 unanswered points to take a 61-44 lead into intermission. Cauley-Stein had 19 points, including 11 in the second quarter when the Kings outscored Denver 32-18.

TIP INS

Nuggets: Prior to today's trade deadline, Denver acquired big man Roy Hibbert from the Milwaukee Bucks for a 2019 protected second-round draft pick. Hibbert was not at the game. ... Emmanuel Mudiay (back) has not played since Feb. 4.