Russell Westbrook flirted with a triple-double while James Harden added 27 points as the Houston Rockets snapped a four-game skid with a 121-105 win over the shorthanded visiting Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.
Westbrook scored a game-high 28 points, grabbed a season-high-tying 16 rebounds and added eight assists to pace the Rockets, who had dropped five of six during their longest slide of the season. Harden was 6 of 13 from the field and 13 of 15 from the free throw line to complement Westbrook, and Eric Gordon added 25 points on 8-of-11 shooting off the Houston bench.
The Nuggets were without guards Jamal Murray and Gary Harris plus forwards Paul Millsap and Michael Porter Jr. It required a yeoman effort for Denver to keep pace, with Nikola Jokic posting a triple-double of 19 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists to steer the patchwork lineup. Jokic also had a game-high six turnovers. Houston converted 15 Denver turnovers into 22 points.
Jerami Grant chipped in 17 points and while P.J. Dozier tallied 15 off the bench for the Nuggets, who trailed by double digits throughout the second half. Houston led by as many as 25 points.
The Nuggets simply lacked the firepower to trade blows with Houston. As late as the 3:54 mark of the first quarter, Denver maintained a stalemate with the Rockets as Jokic converted a 13-foot fadeaway that squared the score at 20-20. But the Rockets scored the final five points of the period to take a 35-28 lead in the second, with the Nuggets shooting just 7 of 19 in that frame.
Houston led by as many as 20 points in the second period, surging to a 56-36 lead on a 14-2 run that featured six Harden free throws plus his reverse layup. Clint Capela (14 points, 11 rebounds) mixed in a transition dunk during that rally and the Rockets capped the first half with 14 fast-break points. Denver trailed by 17 at the intermission and did not produce one double-digit scorer prior to the break.
--Field Level Media