SACRAMENTO (AP) — DeMarcus Cousins had 37 points, 20 rebounds and four blocks for the Sacramento Kings in a 116-110 win over the Denver Nuggets on Friday night.
Coming off a nine-day layoff that included the All-Star break, the Kings played sloppy at times, committing 22 turnovers that led to 34 Denver points. But Cousins was dominant inside and Sacramento shot 49 percent to win its second straight.
Rajon Rondo had 24 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for the Kings. Rudy Gay had 24 points, Darren Collison had 17 and rookie Willie Cauley-Stein had 10.
Danilo Gallinari led the Nuggets with 27 points. Joffrey Lauvergne had 22, Will Barton had 17 and Gary Harris had 14. Denver had won three of four.
Cousins got it going early, having his way inside among a number of Nuggets defenders. He scored 24 first-half points, helping the Kings take a 70-57 lead by halftime.
Ahead by five points, Rondo converted on a driving layup and Collison followed with a fast-break layup, putting the Kings ahead 109-100 with 1:52 remaining.
The Kings took the lead early in the first quarter and never trailed again while winning for just the third time in 11 games.
The slide had led to pre-All-Star speculation that Kings coach George Karl would be fired, but he received a vote of confidence just before the break by general manager Vlade Divac.
It was a sloppy game from the start with both teams making careless turnovers. The Nuggets committed 18 turnovers.
The game marked the return to Sleep Train Arena for Nuggets coach Michael Malone, who was fired last December as Kings coach. Malone was cheered by fans during introductions.
Nuggets: Reserve center Jusuf Nurkic and Rondo were called for double technicals after a first-quarter altercation near the Kings bench. ... Acquired in a trade Thursday with D.J. Augustin, Steve Novak is playing for his ninth team in 10 seasons. ... Malone received a technical in the second quarter after arguing a charging foul in front of the Denver bench.
Kings: Key reserves Marco Belinelli and Omri Casspi were both sidelined after having tooth extractions during the All-Star break. ... Gay made all four 3-pointers and scored 16 first-half points. ... Rondo entered the game averaging 11.9 assists, which is on pace to be most since John Stockton’s 12.3 in 1994-95.