But Arco Arena hasn’t provided much of a home-court advantage for the slumping Sacramento Kings this season.
The Nuggets, who had lost 20 in a row at Arco Arena prior to victories in their last two visits, now could cause the Kings to match the longest home losing streak in franchise history.
Billups averaged 26.3 points and 9.3 assists during Denver’s three-game winning streak before being held to 12 points and four assists in a 108-91 loss to San Antonio on Thursday.
The Nuggets (13-7), whose previous worst loss with Billups in their lineup was a 104-90 defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 21, had only 19 assists on Thursday - their fewest in three weeks and 18 fewer than two nights earlier in a 132-93 win over Toronto.
“That was an ugly game,” said Billups, averaging 18.5 points and 7.0 assists since being acquired from Detroit on Nov. 3 in the Allen Iverson deal. “Games like that you have to wash them off in the shower and just forget about them as soon as possible. They picked us apart. They just outplayed us all over the place.”
Billups is averaging 18.3 points and 7.0 assists in his last three games at Arco Arena, however, he has won only once in 11 career games in Sacramento.
The Kings (5-15) have lost seven in a row there after winning their first three home games of the season. The franchise record for consecutive home losses is eight, set during the 1971-72 season when they were based in Kansas City and matched at Arco from Nov. 24-Dec. 19, 1993.
“It’s frustrating, it’s like having something on your back and you can’t get it off,” said point guard Bobby Jackson, whose Kings haven’t won at home since defeating Golden State 115-98 on Nov. 9.
Sacramento also has lost seven in a row overall. The Kings haven’t dropped eight straight since a Sacramento era-record 12-game skid during the 1998-99 season.
Carmelo Anthony has averaged 29.5 points and 9.0 rebounds in his last two games at Sacramento, including a 113-101 win on March 11, 2007, that snapped the 20-game losing streak at Arco. However, he’s coming off a poor game versus the Spurs, scoring 16 points and committing a season-high seven turnovers.
While Anthony’s team-leading scoring average is down to 19.8 points, Sacramento hopes the return of its top scorer can provide a spark. Kevin Martin was back Tuesday after missing 12 games with a sprained left ankle, scoring a team-leading 22 points in 33 minutes off the bench in a 99-94 loss to Utah.
Martin missed the first two games against the Nuggets last season with a strained right groin, but scored 36 points in a 118-115 win at Denver on April 5.
John Salmons, who led the Kings in scoring in Martin’s absence with 20.3 points per game, missed Tuesday’s game with a groin injury. Sacramento coach Reggie Theus expects the seventh-year swingman to be available on Saturday.
Taking Salmons’ place in the lineup, Francisco Garcia made his first start of the season and had 11 points and six rebounds against Utah. Garcia, who missed the first 17 games of 2008-09 with a strained right calf, averaged 20.7 points in three games versus Denver last season.