SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Raymond Felton scored 14 of his 17 points in the final quarter, and the Denver Nuggets won their fourth straight game with a 99-90 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Friday night.
The Nuggets used a big third quarter to distance themselves from the cold-shooting Kings. The Nuggets have gone 14-4 since the trade of Carmelo Anthony on Feb. 22.
Denver (46-29) remained 2 1/2 games ahead of Portland for fifth place in the Western Conference with seven games left in the regular season.
Francisco Garcia scored 17 points for the Kings, who are tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the worst home record (10-28) in the NBA. Tyreke Evans had 13 points, while Beno Udrih, Jason Thompson and Marcus Thornton all had 11.
Kenyon Martin scored 14 points for Denver, which had six players in double figures. Nene had 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Aaron Afflalo scored 11.
It’s been a different Nuggets team since the departure of Anthony. The scoring has been balanced among the starters and a core group of reserves, making Denver a difficult team to defend.
Trailing by 17 points, the Kings scored nine straight to cut the Denver lead to 86-78 at the 7:56 mark. Yet poor shooting plagued the Kings over the next five minutes, when they scored just six points.
Felton made a jumper and followed with a fast-break layup with 2:46 left to put the Nuggets ahead 95-84. Sacramento, which shot 40 percent and had 16 turnovers, never got closer than nine points the remainder of the game.
The Nuggets are outscoring opponents by nearly 16 points during their four-game win streak, including a convincing 104-90 victory over the Kings. In Wednesday’s win in Denver, the Nuggets trailed the Kings by as many as 13 points, but pulled away in the second half when they outscored 63-39.
Despite a good chance of the Kings departing, Sacramento fans have shown no outward signs of animosity at Power Balance Pavilion. Attendance was 15,871 against the Nuggets and boos were a rarity throughout the game.
On Tuesday night, the Anaheim City Council voted 5-0 to approve a $75 million financial package to lure the Kings from Sacramento. The council also voted 5-0 to pay for the Kings’ relocation, a decision that makes the likelihood of the team relocating to Anaheim next season even stronger.
In the third quarter, the Nuggets ran off eight straight points to build a 70-59 lead by the midway point. Danilo Gallinari, who went scoreless in the first half, scored nine points and Martin had eight. Denver outscored the Kings 31-16 and headed into the fourth with a 79-67 lead.
Garcia scored 11 points in the opening half in helping the Kings to a 51-48 lead.
Notes: Former Kings owner Jim Thomas sat in a courtside seat that on many nights has been occupied by one of the Maloof owners. The Maloofs have not attended a home game in over a month. Evans made his first start since missing 19 games with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Last year’s rookie of the year had come off the bench in his previous three games. The Denver bench outscored the starters 29-19 in the opening half.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)