Monday, December 2, 2019
By MICHAEL WAGAMAN
SACRAMENTO, California (AP) — Sacramento coach Luke Walton views Harrison Barnes as a calming influence for the Kings, something that showed in a comeback win over Denver on Saturday.
Barnes scored six of his season-high 30 points in overtime, Buddy Hield hit two free throws with 9.5 seconds left and the Kings rallied to beat the Nuggets 100-97.
“That’s largely my role, to come in to help where needed,” Barnes said. “Some nights it’s scoring. Some nights it’s rebounding, some night it’s defence. Some nights it simply just making the right play. That’s something I try to do consistently for this team.”
Barnes’ leadership has become much more valuable while Sacramento plays without injured starters De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III. He helped stabilise the Kings after they trailed by 17 at halftime, then came up big in overtime when he nearly outscored Denver by himself. “Tonight, he showed again why he’s so important to us on both ends of the court,” Walton said. “It was a good, solid win for our group, one that we needed and we worked for.”
Sacramento didn’t lead until Barnes made a jumper early in overtime. Gary Harris’ 3-pointer put the Nuggets up 95-94, but Barnes answered with two free throws and scored on a short lean-in shot.
Harris made two free throws before Hield answered with two of his own to help Sacramento end a six-game losing streak against Denver. The Kings became the third team this season to win after trailing by 17 at halftime, joining Miami and the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Nuggets failed to get off a shot in the final 15 seconds as Jamal Murray dribbled out the clock.
“We have to come up with something better,” Murray said. “The ball was in my hands, so it makes me look bad when that happens. We have to come up with something better, get open, and set some screens. It all comes out in the execution.”
Nemanja Bjelica had 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Kings. Richaun Holmes added 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Hield had 21 points despite an off-night shooting.
Harris scored 18 of his 25 points in the first quarter. Will Barton added 14 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. Murray scored 15 points.
The Nuggets missed a chance to win in regulation when Holmes blocked Murray’s shot from behind at the buzzer.
“You have to get a shot off at the end of regulation and you have to get a shot off at the end of overtime, and we didn’t get a shot off either time,” Denver coach Mike Malone said. “Obviously I have to do a better job in terms of helping us with that late game execution.”
Sacramento was behind 75-67 entering the fourth. Hield, who struggled with his shot for much of the game, made consecutive 3s and scored on a driving layup to tie it at 90.
Nuggets: Denver scored 57 points in the first half but was outscored 60-40 after that. ... Nikola Jokic missed five consecutive shots in the fourth quarter. ... Harris’ previous season high of 17 points also came against Sacramento.
Kings: Holmes’ double-double is his sixth this season, a career high. ... Bagley has yet to be cleared to play but is getting closer. The second overall pick a year ago, Bagley has been out since breaking his right thumb in the season opener. Fox (left ankle sprain) is also making progress in his rehab but isn’t as close as Bagley.
The Kings won despite shooting 38.5% from the floor. They are one of six NBA teams to win shooting at least that poorly.
Nuggets: Return to Denver to host the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.
Kings: Host the Bulls on Monday. Sacramento has won the last four against Chicago.
Harden’s 60 points help
Rockets roll over
HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden scored a season-high 60 points in 31 minutes and the Houston Rockets sent the struggling Atlanta Hawks to their 10th straight loss with a 158-111 romp on Saturday night.
Harden came one point shy of matching his career high and franchise record on a night he made eight 3-pointers and 20 free throws.
He watched the entire fourth quarter from the bench with Houston up 127-73 at the end of three.
It was his fourth career 60-point game, tying him with Michael Jordan for third-most in NBA history, trailing only Kobe Bryant (six) and Wilt Chamberlain (32). Harden is the only active player who has scored 60 points more than once.
Trae Young led the Hawks with 37 points and had five 3-pointers, but it wasn’t nearly enough to offset Harden’s game.
The Rockets raced out to a 14-5 lead and had stretched their advantage to 81-52 by halftime behind 31 points from Harden for their third 80-point first half in franchise history.
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 26 points but his double-double streak ended at 19 games when he grabbed nine rebounds while playing only 20 minutes as Milwaukee coasted over Charlotte.
Milwaukee (17-3) won its 11th straight game and matched its highest point total of the season. The Bucks held a 17-point halftime lead and extended it to 101-75 entering the fourth quarter, allowing the reigning MVP to sit out the final period.
Antetokounpo’s streak of double-doubles to open a season left him short of Bill Walton’s record of 34 with the Portland Trail Blazers in 1976-77. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also had 29 for the Los Angeles Lakers in 1975-76.
The Bucks put nine players in double figures and finished November with a franchise-best 15-1 record, losing only on a buzzer-beating shot in Utah on Nov. 8.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid had 32 points and 11 rebounds and Ben Simmons had three steals in the final 13.9 seconds to lead Philadelphia over Indiana.
Simmons finished with 15 points, 13 assists, six rebounds and four steals. Tobias Harris scored 22 points for Philadelphia, which won its third straight while improving to 9-0 at home. T.J. Warren had 29 points and Malcolm Brogdon added 28 for the Pacers, who had won five straight.
Indiana opened a grueling five-game, seven-day road trip.