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Lawson spurs Nuggets' runaway win over Kings

The SportsXchange

DENVER -- Ty Lawson went back in time to deliver another strong game for the Denver Nuggets.

Lawson scored 26 points before sitting out the fourth quarter and the Nuggets got off to a fast start and were never threatened in a 121-93 rout of the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night.

Andre Iguodala scored 20 points and Danilo Gallinari had 14 for the Nuggets, who have won three straight.

Lawson set the tone, scoring 15 points in the first quarter when he went 6 of 9 from the field. It was the second big quarter for him this season. He had 23 in the third quarter against Washington on Jan. 18.

"Just playing my game like I used to in high school," Lawson said. "I was attacking and not really thinking too much about driving."

He set the tone for the Nuggets, who have struggled with strong starts in January but turned that around Saturday. After trailing by one early, they went on a 28-7 run in the first quarter to grab control. They shot 73.9 percent in the quarter.

Denver set a season high for points in a half when it led 71-49 at intermission. The Nuggets' 39 points in the first quarter tied a season high for points in a quarter.

"We talked about how they run the floor. We just couldn't stop it," Sacramento guard Tyreke Evans said. "They run the floor, they got rebounds, they got steals, one pass and layup dunk. We knew what they wanted to do. We just didn't stop it."

Aaron Brooks scored 16 points off the bench and Evans had 15 points for the Kings, who have lost four straight.

DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento's leading scorer, was held to three points and two rebounds and failed to score in double figures for the first time in his last 17 games.

It was the second loss in 24 hours for Sacramento, which started a six-game road trip with one of its worst losses of the season.

"It's always hard. Especially when you play a game the night before and you get in real late," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "You have to play a controlled basketball game. I thought our passes were shaky. That led to 25 points on 20 turnovers. Fatigue or whatever it might be, it happens sometimes in this building."

The Kings hurt themselves with sloppy ball control. They had five turnovers in the first quarter, including two on consecutive possessions that led to layups by Lawson.

Things didn't get better after that. The Kings cut it to 39-28 early in the second quarter, but Denver never let the lead get below double digits. The Nuggets stretched it to a 22-point advantage on Iguodala's 3-pointer at the end of the second quarter.

"We were playing with a higher energy and with a higher skill set," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "They had a little bit of rhythm in the second quarter when they looked like they were going to fight, but in the third quarter we took the game to an out-of-control level."

The Nuggets started the third quarter on a 17-6 run to put it away. They led by as many as 35 in the quarter and took a 101-69 advantage into the fourth quarter.

Denver emptied its bench in the fourth quarter and cruised to its 10th win in the last 13 games.

"This was a good one for us, knowing we can take care of business," Iguodala said. "We've got to stay on each other and hold each other accountable."

NOTES: The Nuggets set a season high with 13 3-pointers. ... Denver has won 16 of its last 23 against Sacramento and is 14-3 at home against the Kings since the 2003-04 season. ... Cousins has 20 double-doubles this season and had a streak of six in a row snapped Friday against Oklahoma City. ... Denver started a six-game homestand Saturday that ends Feb. 7, which caps a stretch of 15 of 18 at home. ... The Kings have won four road games this season, but three of those have come in January. Smart said the team needs to find a few wins on this current six-game road trip. "We have to try and figure out a way to steal a couple of games out here," he said, "It's very difficult for even good teams on the road. When you have teams like our team trying to find itself on the road and trying to establish itself, the biggest thing is taking care of the basketball. If you can do that, you have a chance."
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