Nuggets’ five-game winning streak ends with loss to Kings


Half of Denver’s roster could be in the infirmary yet as long as No. 15 was healthy, the Nuggets would have a chance.

Behind another 40-point effort, Nikola Jokic almost dragged his beleaguered team to another victory.

Instead, the absences of Aaron Gordon (shoulder), Jamal Murray (knee maintenance), Bruce Brown (ankle) and Jeff Green (hand) were too costly in a gripping 127-126 loss to the Kings. What was once a 19-point, second-half Denver lead fizzled under Sacramento’s pressure, and the Nuggets’ winning streak was snapped at five.

De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Domantas Sabonis combined for 95 points, as Denver’s defense fell apart in the second half. Denver fell to 22-12 overall and will try to rebound against the Heat on Friday.

Here’s what mattered Wednesday night.

Bones’ bounceback: Starting in place of Murray, Bones Hyland played his best game in two weeks, finishing with 20 points, 11 assists and five rebounds in 33 minutes. But tasked with initiating the two-man game with Jokic late in the fourth quarter as the Nuggets were sitting on a slight lead, Hyland struggled to get into the offense. The defensive intensity and physicality wrought by Davion Mitchell impacted him.

Unable to facilitate reliable offense, the Kings took advantage of a fluid Denver defense.

Yet even though the Nuggets lost, getting outscored 33-21 in the fourth quarter, those moments will be invaluable to Hyland’s growth. It’s not often he’s asked to fill Murray’s shoes, and the second-year guard filled in admirably. There’s just another level of precision and execution that’s required in crunch time.

Despite the recent slump, he’s still as slippery and audacious as always. His next level entails striking the balance between attacking and distributing. By no means did Denver lose because of Hyland, but when you’re the point guard, the spotlight shines a little brighter.


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