SACRAMENTO -- The Denver Nuggets won their sixth consecutive game by scrapping out a 120-113 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night before an announced crowd of 11,923 at Sleep Train Arena.
The Nuggets (40-22) became just the fourth Western Conference team to reach the 40-win mark and improved to 14-19 on the road.
The Kings (21-41), meanwhile, dropped 15-14 at home.
The Nuggets used a varied offensive attack, led by point guard Ty Lawson's 24 points. Lawson, who was the Western Conference Player of the Week, had a prolific offensive game despite making just 6 of 12 free throws.
Danilo Gallinari scored 23 points, while forward Kenneth Faried scored 19 points and grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds.
Marcus Thornton scored a game-high 32 points in 35 minutes off the bench for the Kings. Isaiah Thomas scored 23, while forward Jason Thompson scored 18 on 9 of 11 field goals.
Denver's interior defense shut down Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. He made just 1 of 12 field-goal attempts and often was unable to get clean looks around the basket against center Kosta Koufas, Faried or JaVale McGee.
Denver's defense was particularly effective in the third quarter. The Nuggets did not allow a Kings field goal until the 6:15 mark of the period. Denver outscored Sacramento, 36-29, during the period after the game was tied 50-50 at halftime.
NOTES: The Kings entered Tuesday night's game averaging 110.7 points per game in their past 11 games and 118.8 points a game in their previous four. ... Denver has won its last eight games against the Kings. The Kings last defeated the Nuggets on Jan. 6, 2011 in Sacramento. The Nuggets had scored 119 or more points vs. the Kings in each of their past five meetings. ... The Kings had shot .472 (68-114) from 3-point range in their past six games. ... Denver is 23-3 when allowing fewer than 100 points. ... Kings coach Keith Smart was discussing the improvement of second-year guard Jimmer Fredette when he posed a question to the assembled media. "How do you make a guy a defender? Most of your defenders play it instinctively. It's here (as he pointed to his heart). You have to want to be a defender. Defenders have to be the aggressors."