Billups' 24 pace Nuggets' easy defeat of Kings

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A team with lots of offense and little regard for defense in the past, the Denver Nuggets are producing at both ends of the court.

Chauncey Billups scored 24 points and the Nuggets held Sacramento to its worst shooting game in a dozen years, helping Denver post a 118-85 victory on Saturday night in dealing the Kings their eighth straight loss.

Denver raced to a 24-8 lead, was ahead by 21 points at the half, and never allowed the cold-shooting Kings to get close in the second half.

Sacramento shot 29.3 percent, which is the first time the team has shot under 30 percent since Dec. 1, 1996, against Detroit.

"We were making a lot of stops and that was giving us a lot of chances to play in the open court," Denver coach George Karl said. "The way we played defense tonight will give us a chance to figure it out offensively."

There were few problems to ponder after this lopsided win, Denver's biggest margin of victory in franchise history against the Kings.

The addition of Billups has helped the Nuggets become a more defensive-minded team. They entered the game ranked fifth in lowest field-goal percentage allowed and sixth in 3-point shooting by opponents. But the frustrated Kings were more focused afterward on what they did wrong as the losing continues.

Despite having all its players available for the first time this season, the result was still another loss for the Kings, who have dropped 11 of 12. The Kings also have lost eight straight at home, tying a mark that has happened two other times in franchise history, the last one in 1993.

"Would you let someone go into your house, smack your wife around, make a sandwich and change the channel on your TV?" Kings forward Mikki Moore said. "We're disgusted with ourselves."

Renaldo Balkman had 17 points for Denver, which was coming off an embarrassing 108-91 home loss Thursday night against San Antonio. The Nuggets are 13-4 since Billups joined the team in the trade that sent Allen Iverson to Detroit and have won four of five games.

"We looked forward to this game after playing so poorly against San Antonio," said Billups, who made three 3-pointers and hit nine of 10 free throws. "You don't want a team that is struggling to come out at home and start making high energy plays and get their crowd going. We came out very aggressive."

No one was more aggressive than Nene, who did most of his damage in the opening half in finishing with 16 points, seven rebounds, five steals and three blocks. Nene, who was bothered by injuries and played sparingly in two of the last three years, had 11 points and four steals in the opening quarter.

"No one probably would have predicted the progress he has made this year, but we knew he could be good," Karl said. "He's not there yet, but Nene has shown his specialness."

Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith each had 16 points for Denver, 7-4 on the road.

John Salmons scored 22 points, and Beno Udrih added 14 for the Kings. Francisco Garcia had 11 points, Spencer Hawes had 10 points and 12 rebounds, and rookie Jason Thompson finished with eight points and a career-high 15 rebounds.

"There is no excuse for being physically handled," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "Every time we play a team that is physical and has went after us we have back off or backed up."

Playing in his second game after missing 12 straight because of an ankle injury, Kevin Martin struggled. He was 2-of-11 and had eight points and three turnovers before departing the game in the third quarter with a sore ankle. He status is day-to-day. The Kings don't play again until a home game Tuesday night against the Lakers.

Billups kept Denver in control during the third quarter. He connected on both his shots and also made seven free throws without a miss, scoring 13 points to make it 89-62 heading into the fourth.

Game notes
Denver starting forward Kenyon Martin missed the game because of a sprained wrist. ... Veteran Kings guard Bobby Jackson, who played in the team's first 20 games, never left the bench. ... Kings starting center Brad Miller was scoreless and had five rebounds in 17 minutes.