Kings squeak past Nuggets in opener
Sacramento, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Jason Thompson's go-ahead putback dunk with 41.5 seconds remaining helped the Sacramento Kings down the Denver Nuggets, 90-88, in the season opener for both teams.
Denver's J.J. Hickson capped a quick 6-0 burst when he burst through the lane for a layup to tie the game at 88-88 with 1:37 to go.
DeMarcus Cousins was unable to hit on a mini hook shot from the lower left block on the Kings' next possession before Denver's shot-clock violation gave the ball back to Sacramento.
Cousins again got the ball on the lower left block and again misfired from in close, but Thompson was unaccounted for and rose high for the offensive rebound and putback.
Evan Fournier then missed a three for Denver and Cousins was unable to get his layup to drop with five seconds on the clock. Randy Foye snatched the defensive rebound and outletted to Ty Lawson, who was unable to get his reverse layup to fall. The ensuing rebound was kicked out of bounds off the Kings, but Foye's left corner triple at the buzzer ricocheted off the side of the backboard.
"When we get stops, we're a tough team," Cousins said. "We broke down a lot tonight, made a lot of mistakes, made the game a lot harder than it should have been."
Cousins, signed to a four-year, $62 million extension during the offseason, had 30 points and 14 rebounds for the Kings, who stayed in Sacramento after the NBA rejected a relocation attempt to Seattle.
The Maloofs are no longer the primary owners, Vivek Ranadive is, and Shaquille O'Neal, who once referred to the teams as "the Queens," is a minority stake- holder. Mike Malone was brought in to coach the team.
Greivis Vasquez, acquired in the Tyreke Evans trade to the New Orleans Pelicans, netted 17 points and Isaiah Thomas added 16 off the bench in the triumph.
Lawson had 20 points and eight assists for Denver, which started off the Brian Shaw era with a loss. Shaw took over after last year's Coach of the Year George Karl was fired after losing a first-round series for the eighth time in his nine seasons as head coach.
"They made the plays at the end of the game," Shaw said. "We had our opportunities."
Sacramento led 25-22 after a quarter of play and 48-45 at the break before Denver outscored the Kings 27-22 in the third to take a slim 72-70 edge into the final frame.
The Kings shot 40.7 percent from the floor ... Hickson had 12 points and nine rebounds ... Denver won 57 games a year ago and was the West's third seed ... The Nuggets shot 43 percent from the field.
10/31 02:17:49 ET