Jason Thompson scored on a putback in the final minute and DeMarcus Cousins erupted for 30 points and 14 rebounds as the Sacramento Kings opened the 2013-14 season with a 90-88 win over the Denver Nuggets at Sleep Train Arena Wednesday night.
Coach Mike Malone won in his NBA coaching debut and Sacramento broke a nine-game losing streak against the Nuggets on a night when new owner Vivek Ranadive brought down the house with this line:
“This is your team and it’s here to stay.”
Compare that to the feelings of dread brought on by the final years of the Maloof family ownership and last year’s almost non-stop reports that the Kings were headed to Seattle and it’s definitely a whole new ballgame in Sacramento.
Cousins, who was given a four-year, $62 million extension before the season started, looked like he was ready to show he was worth the investment. His dunk off his own missed shot with less than four minutes left gave the Kings an 86-82 lead and he followed that by drawing an offensive foul on the other end.
When Isaiah Thomas hit a jumper on the other end to make it 88-82, it looked like the Kings had the game well in hand.
Denver had other ideas.
The Nuggets scored six straight points and tied it with 1:37 left on a drive by J.J. Hickson.
Thompson gave the Kings the lead for good when he slammed home a miss by Cousins with 41.5 seconds left. If nothing else, Thompson proved timing is everything—he had missed all four of his shots prior to making the game-winner.
Greivis Vasquez scored 17 points in his Kings debut and Thomas came off the bench for 16 points and five assists. Ty Lawson led five Nuggets in double figures with 20 points while also handing out eight assists.
It was the third time in four years the Kings have won their season opener. They will be back at home Friday night when the Los Angeles Clippers come to town for a 7 p.m. (PT) tip.