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Nuggets extend win streak to 15

The SportsXchange

DENVER -- The last time the Denver franchise won this many games in a row, it was playing with a red, white and blue ball, was nicknamed the Rockets and belonged in a league that doesn't exist today.

That was 43 years ago, when the Denver Rockets stormed through the ABA to set the high-water mark for the organization. This season's version, the Denver Nuggets, bridged history to the NBA.

Danilo Gallinari scored nine of his 19 points in the fourth quarter and the Nuggets overcame another sluggish performance to win their 15th straight with a 101-95 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night.

Not since the days of smoky arenas and bell bottoms has this organization won so many in a row.

"I'm part of the Nuggets history, and that's great," Gallinari said. "We did something special for this franchise. Everybody will remember this team."

Kenneth Faried had 17 points and nine rebounds as Denver won its club-record 17th in a row at home.

The history-making run has the Nuggets third in the Western Conference with 11 games left. The team record for wins in an NBA season (54) is five away, a reachable goal with six home games left.

But to reach 55, the Nuggets have to play better, a point Denver coach George Karl vehemently made after another close home win over a losing team.

"I can't deny I'm disappointed that after Philadelphia we threw this out there," Karl said. "I thought our minds and our leadership were very average."

The Nuggets had to overcome a big night from DeMarcus Cousins, who finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds for the Kings.

Denver barely kept the streak alive with a miraculous comeback against Philadelphia on Thursday and needed some late heroics again Saturday.

They trailed by two early in the fourth quarter before going on a 7-0 run to take an 81-76 lead.

Sacramento stayed close, getting to within two a couple of times before Denver pulled away. A layup by Kosta Koufos and a fast-break dunk by Faried pushed the lead to 95-88 with 3:44 left.

Two layups by Cousins made it 95-92, but with a chance to get it closer he missed another. Andre Miller hit a driving layup and a free throw with 51 seconds to make it 98-92.

John Salmons, who finished with 18 points, hit a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left to cut it to four, but Miller sank two more foul shots.

"We had a chance. The difference is they are in a streak, they have won games like this and they continue to win," Cousins said. "That gives them an edge against a team like us."

The Kings aren't headed to the playoffs, but they've played well against two of the hottest team in the NBA. They took Miami to double overtime on Feb. 26 before wilting in Florida as the Heat won their 11th in a row, a streak that has reached 25.

And Saturday night they gave Denver a scare before the Nuggets pulled it out.

"We have been in this situation," Salmons said. "We were in a game against Miami and like that game we couldn't finish. They heard us banging."

Karl didn't talk like a coach on a winning streak. Instead, he lamented his team's attitude the past two games.

"What I've been telling the team, telling them for three days, the next (11) games I don't want to hear about rest, I don't want to hear we're tired, I want our attitude to be the best basketball we've played all year, and if you don't want to do that then I'll play somebody else," he said.

"I don't want to hear about my body hurts, I'm sore -- everybody plays the same amount of games, and resting's not going to get us ready for the opportunities. If we had a bunch of 30-year-olds, I might have a different opinion, but we have a bunch of 25-year-olds."

NOTES: Denver guard Ty Lawson went through some workouts on the practice court pregame, but his right heel was too sore to play. He was dressed and on the bench but didn't get in. ... Denver forward Wilson Chandler said he could be back against San Antonio on Wednesday. ... The Kings have scored at least 100 points in 17 of their last 20 games. Since the All-Star break, the Kings are first in the league in scoring at 110 points per game. Sacramento coach Keith Smart said his team's offensive success isn't predicated on Denver's model, which is pushing the pace. "Denver really runs," he said. "I don't think we run as much as they do, we're actually making shots. The 3-point shot has been good or our basketball team. We're realizing our points-per-possession more so than we're running more." ... The Nuggets are first in the league in fast-break points per game (19.7) and second in points off turnovers (also 19.7).
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