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Denver Nuggets commit season-high in turnovers, fall at Sacramento Kings

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— The Nuggets had harped on their massive dose of turnovers in the locker room at halftime.

Then on the first play of the third quarter, Denver point guard Jamal Murray tossed a bad pass right to Sacramento’s Willie Cauley-Stein, who took his free path to the basket for a breakaway dunk.

Denver’s biggest season-long issue made its jarring return Saturday night at the Golden 1 Center, leading to arguably the Nuggets’ worst loss of 2017-18. They committed a season-high 26 turnovers for 40 points in a 106-98 defeat to the lowly, short-handed Kings.

“We just threw the ball around like we didn’t care,” said center Nikola Jokic, who committed five. “We need to pass it with more of a sense of urgency. We need to take care of it, because that’s the problem we’ve had the whole season. It sounds simple, but it’s not simple for us.”

Boxscore: Sacramento 106, Denver 98

The turnover total surpassed the 23 Denver committed against Washington in the season’s third game. Those miscues dropped the Nuggets (21-18) to a 7-14 record on the road and 2-5 mark on the second night of a back-to-back set. The Kings (13-25) topped the Denver without leading scorer Zach Randolph, along with contributors George Hill and Frank Mason.

Denver entered Saturday ranked 23rd in the NBA in turnovers (15.4 per game) and 27th in opponent points off those errors (18.8 per game). But the Nuggets had recently cleaned that area up, committing 13 or fewer in four of its previous five games.

Saturday’s self-inflicted miscues came from all over the floor, as Murray and Wilson Chandler joined Jokic with five, Will Barton had four and Trey Lyles finished with three. And the turnovers came early, often and at critical moments.

Chandler had three in the game’s first three minutes, when he traveled, threw a poor pass inside and stepped out of bounds after corralling a defensive rebound. Denver surrendered 20 points off 15 turnovers in the first half, helping Sacramento build a double-digit lead before the Nuggets got “lucky” with an 8-2 spurt to close the second quarter and cut the Kings’ halftime lead to 46-41.

Then came Murray’s fumble to open the third. Then with the Nuggets trailing by seven later in the period, Lyles immediately threw a bad pass out of a timeout. Then down the stretch in the fourth, Murray and Jokic both lost the ball when Denver was aiming to make it a one-possession game.

“I passed the ball to (Jokic) when he wasn’t even looking,” Murray said. “I put that on myself. I’ve got to be able to get guys to the right spot and make sure we’re executing properly, especially on the road.”

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