Michael Malone's All-Star break started early, but Kings couldn't hold off Nuggets

Michael Malone voiced his displeasure with a foul call against one of his players. He was given an early start to the All-Star break.

The Denver Nuggets coach received two technical fouls and was ejected with 1:33 left in the second quarter, but the Kings couldn’t hold off the Nuggets, who rallied and then held on for a 120-118 win at Pepsi Center.

Denver was down 61-53 at the time of Malone’s dismissal, but a big third quarter got the Nuggets (39-18) back on track.

“I think they enjoyed me not being there,” Malone joked before adding, “I think our players know me, they know who I am. I am a fighter, I am a competitor. I didn’t like some of the calls that were not being called and I am going to stick up for my players.”

With the score tied at 118, Nikola Jokic tipped in his own miss with 0.8 seconds left. He had his 12th triple-double of the season with 20 points, 18 rebounds and 11 assists.

“That’s why he’s an All-Star,” said Buddy Hield, who led the Kings (30-27) with 25 points. “He’s done a hell of a job all year and in his career, so he deserves it.”

Hield got a shot away off an inbound pass as time expired, but his 3-point attempt hit front iron and bounced away. Had it gone in, it would have been his second game-winning shot at the buzzer.