James Harden produced another sparkling double-double but this time received plenty of help as the Houston Rockets extended their home-court winning streak to 10 games with a 125-113 victory over the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets on Monday.
Jan 7, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) walks on the court during the second half against the Denver Nuggets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Harden paired 32 points with 14 assists. The Rockets also received a career-high 31 points from center Clint Capela (plus nine rebounds) and 21 points apiece from P.J. Tucker and Gerald Green.
Tucker, who drilled a career-best seven 3-pointers, scored 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting in the first period, rebounding from a scoreless effort in Portland on Saturday when he attempted one shot.
Houston finished 22 of 47 from behind the arc to outflank the Nuggets, who had a five-game winning streak snapped and lost to the Rockets for the second time this season. The Rockets bounced back after having their six-game win streak end Saturday against the Trail Blazers.
Nikola Jokic paced Denver with 24 points and 13 rebounds while Monte Morris (21 points) and Malik Beasley (14) provided support off the bench. Jamal Murray added 13 points and fellow guard Gary Harris 14 in his first start since returning from a prolonged injury absence.
The Nuggets were buoyed by their reserves early, with Morris and Beasley combining for 13 first-quarter points on 5-for-6 shooting. Their ability to attack off the dribble enabled the Nuggets to keep shredding the Houston defense even while the starters rested, and with Harden unable to get going against the trap, Denver extended to a 45-40 lead early in the second.
That’s when Capela joined Tucker in the fight, exploiting mismatches whenever the Nuggets forced Harden off the ball. Capela scored 10 consecutive Houston points following an Austin Rivers corner 3-pointer that cut the deficit to two, including a dunk through a foul that provided a spark.
Still, Harden had just two shot attempts before erupting late in the first half, starting with a step-back 3-pointer that featured him dropping Murray to the ground and converting through a foul when Murray recovered. Harden completed that four-point play with 1:49 left in the half, and added two more 3-pointers to stretch the margin to 70-60 at the break.
Harden closed the half with 18 points and seven assists despite taking only six shots. It wasn’t until the waning moments of the third quarter that Harden attempted a shot inside the arc.
—Field Level Media