Kings squeak past Nuggets in opener

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Updated: October 31, 2013

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 outleted to 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.

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.

Game Notes

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.