Nuggets begin stretch at home, play host to Kings

Defense and strong play at home have helped the Denver Nuggets in their recent ascension in the West and they will begin a six-game homestand Saturday versus the Sacramento Kings at the Pepsi Center.

The Nuggets are currently sixth in the conference standings and have won two straight and eight of the last 10 games, including Wednesday's 105-95 triumph at Houston. Ty Lawson was a handful for the hosts and led the Nuggets with 21 points, seven assists and four rebounds.

Wilson Chandler scored 20 points off the bench, while Danilo Gallinari netted 18 points and both Andre Iguodala and JaVale McGee finished with 14 for a Denver squad that is fourth in the NBA with 103.2 ppg and used a 30-11 run between the third and fourth quarter to dispose of the Rockets.

Denver's win marked coach George Karl's 1,100th of his career.

"I'll probably have a ball signed by the players and put it in my trophy case and drink a few beers someday remembering," Karl said about the win. "I'm at a stage at my career where fortunately I've been around and still loved the game, and it's a privilege to coach a good basketball team."

The veteran Karl sits 55 wins behind Phil Jackson for fifth place and 41 victories shy of passing Doug Moe for the most wins in Nuggets history. Karl's team is 17-3 when holding teams under 100 points and 16-3 in the Rockies.

Denver has won six of seven home games, is 11-1 as the host against the West and will also entertain Indiana, Houston, New Orleans, Milwaukee and Chicago on the homestand.

Sacramento will embark on a season-long six-game road trip Saturday against the Nuggets and just dropped a 105-95 decision to the Oklahoma City Thunder Friday night.

Tyreke Evans scored 16 points and DeMarcus Cousins had 14 points and eight rebounds for the Kings, who blew an early 23-9 lead and have lost three in a row since winning three of the previous four contests. Evans has scored 16 points in each of the last four games.

"It's frustrating," said Cousins, who had notched six straight double-doubles and is averaging 19.9 ppg in the past 16. "I'm going to keep my mouth closed and stay positive."

The Kings trailed by as many as 25 points, 86-61, and got 13 from Marcus Thornton. The Thunder outrebounded (47-39) and outshot (.487 to .419) the Kings from the field.

Sacramento is just 4-16 away from California's capital and will also visit Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, New York and Utah on the 10-day trek.

The Kings suffered a 122-97 home loss to the Nuggets on Dec. 16 this season and have lost six straight and eight of nine matchups with Denver. The Nuggets are unbeaten in seven straight as the host in this series.