The Sacramento Kings aren’t finding things easy against the best teams in the NBA, but they appear to have caught a huge break as they face another one.
Sacramento (13-16) has lost the first two contests of this four-game homestand in excruciating fashion, falling 117-104 in overtime to Cleveland on Wednesday and 112-103 in double overtime to the Lakers on Saturday.
The Nuggets (20-11) have lost five straight on the road and won’t have Billups, who is giving his strained left groin time to heal. Billups sat out Sunday’s 104-96 home loss to Dallas, dropping Denver to 1-3 without him.
Billups injured the groin on Dec. 16 against Houston and sat out three straight games. The All-Star guard returned on Christmas Day at Portland, but didn’t play in the second half.
The Nuggets said in an injury update report Sunday that the move was “not a setback” and the goal was to avoid a “lingering problem.” Billups is averaging 17.1 points and 5.7 assists this season.
Evans, though, faded down the stretch in the loss to the Lakers. He finished with 18 points, scoring two after regulation and committing five turnovers overall.
“It was the worst game I have ever played in the NBA,” Evans said. “We had the lead and we had a couple of bad plays down the stretch.”
The Kings have not finished strong, getting outscored 13-0 in overtime against the Cavaliers and 18-2 after taking a seven-point lead in the first overtime against the Lakers.
“We stopped being aggressive,” coach Paul Westphal said about Saturday’s loss. “We started playing against the clock which is not what we want to do.”
The Nuggets won three of four against the Kings last season, scoring 118 points in each victory.
Denver, though, shot a season-low 38.2 percent Sunday in its fourth loss in five games. Anthony, averaging a league-leading 29.9 points, fouled out for the first time this season with 16 points and a season-high 12 rebounds.
“I think we got too emotional at times and too frustrated at times with the refereeing, with the ball not going in, not shooting the ball very well, missing layups,” coach George Karl said. “It seems like our emotional balance at times was too out of control.”