NBA Basketball

Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Sacramento 18 16 18 27 79
Denver 17 25 24 30 96
6:00 PM PT7:00 PM MT8:00 PM CT9:00 PM ET1:00 GMT9:00 6:00 PM MST8:00 PM EST5:00 UAE (+1)03:0021:00 ET8:00 PM CTNaN:� , October 21, 2017
Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado  Attendance: 19,520

Millsap leads Nuggets past Kings in home debut

(Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

(TSX / STATS) -- DENVER -- The Denver Nuggets let one slip away in Utah with a poor defensive effort. They learned their lesson, at least for one night, and gave Paul Millsap a successful home debut.

Millsap had 18 points and nine rebounds in his first game in Denver, and the Nuggets rebounded from a disappointing loss to the Jazz to beat the Sacramento Kings 96-79 on Saturday night.

Kenneth Faried also scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and Gary Harris had 17 points for Denver.

The Nuggets used a strong defensive effort and a 58-39 rebounding advantage to win a game when scoring less than 100 points. Last year they were 0-13 in those games.

Denver (1-1) blew a 15-point second-half lead to the Jazz in Utah on Wednesday but held the Kings to 36.9 percent shooting and pulled away in the third.

"We were aggressive," Harris said. "We finished, we played a full four quarters. We didn't let up in that fourth quarter like we did last game."

Rookie De'Aaron Fox led the Kings with 18 points. Sacramento (1-2) didn't score 20 points in a quarter until getting 27 in the fourth.

Millsap was playing his first regular-season game at Pepsi Center since signing a two-year, $61 million contract in the offseason. He scored 19 points against the Jazz and turned in an efficient performance Saturday.

He shouldered the load inside on a night star center Nikola Jokic went scoreless in 30 minutes. Jokic attempted just three shots but finished with nine rebounds and seven assists.

"The great thing about Nikola is he had nine points and seven rebounds, he didn't score tonight but he's happy we won," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. "That speaks to who he is as a young man and the teammate he is."

Sacramento's Willie Cauley-Stein also struggled. The 7-footer had two points and nine rebounds a night after having 10 points and 11 rebounds in a win in Dallas.

"This is a learning experience for us. Tonight was the second night of a back to back and for some that was a first experience for that," Kings coach Dave Joerger said. "They came out with hair standing up on the backs of their neck. They were sitting around for us and weren't happy about that. We knew that was the shot we were going to get from them."

Denver led by eight at the half and increased it to 16 late in the third quarter. They scored seven straight in one stretch, the last three coming after Millsap blocked Zach Randolph and Harris drained a 3-pointer at the other end.

Sacramento scored the next six points, but Will Barton hit two straight 3-pointers to make it 62-46. Denver led 66-52 after three quarters.

Barton's follow dunk of Emmanuel Mudiay's missed layup gave the Nuggets an 18-point lead.

Barton, who finished with 15 points, scored on an acrobatic bank shot in the lane and Faried's dunk with 7:41 left made it 76-55.

"We felt the lead slipping a little bit just like the last game, so we wanted to ramp it up and not let it slip," Barton said. "Guys did a good job of stepping up and being aggressive, especially on the defensive end."

Both teams were cold from the field in the first half. Denver missed its first eight 3-point attempts and was 3-for-15 from long range at intermission.

The Kings managed only 34 points in the first 24 minutes.

"We missed shots and didn't get back," Fox said. "We didn't make shots and they had a lot of rebounds and a lot off offensive rebounds."

NOTES: The Nuggets honored five former players and Doug Moe, the winningest coach in franchise history. They held a halftime ceremony and will continue to celebrate the organization's 50th year of basketball -- the first nine in the ABA -- including retiring Fat Lever's number Dec. 2. ... Sacramento F Bogdan Bogdanovic was out for the third straight game because of a right ankle sprain. ... Denver F Richard Jefferson, signed Thursday, was inactive. ... Zach Randolph, who made his Sacramento debut in Dallas on Friday, finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.

Updated October 22, 2017

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