The Denver Nuggets just might be the hottest team in the west, and have been doing it under the radar. The Nuggets scored a season high in points, dismantling the Houston Rockets 132-114, which snapped a 4 game winning streak for the Rockets.
Playing without the team’s leading scorer, Ty Lawson, and second-leading scorer Danilo Gallinari, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury on Thursday, the Nuggets showed their depth. Corey Brewer led Denver, scoring 22 points off the bench, while Wilson Chandler added 21 points, starting in place of Gallinari. Andre Iguodala scored 18 points and dished out 14 assists, while Andre Miller added 11 points and 12 assists.
The win marked the 20th consecutive win at home for Denver, improving their home record to a remarkable 35-3.
The Rockets were led by Jeremy Lin, who scored 23 points and dished out 8 assists. James Harden was held to just 14 points. The Rockets were playing again without Chandler Parsons (calf) and Carlos Delfino (flu), but it wasn’t their shortage that was the reason they lost, instead, it was the turnovers.
“I think throwing the ball to them was a bigger focal point,” Kevin McHale said. “They had 32 points off our turnovers and 18 points off offensive rebounds. There’s no defense for throwing them the ball for a layup. It’s hard to overcome.
The Rockets got off to a hot start, making 4 consecutive three’s in the first quarter at one point, and taking a 35-25 lead into the second quarter. But the Nuggets opened the game up in the third quarter, ending the period with a 13-5 run that blew the Denver lead to 102-83 heading into the fourth quarter.
“When you play a team like Denver, who runs like we run, it has to be wise,” Lin said. “We want to push the pace, but you have to push the pace conservatively, so we don’t give them 20 to 50 points in transition. I think we can push the pace without being so loose with the ball.
Denver showed off their depth by getting big contributions from seldom used reserves Evan Fournier, who had 17 points and 5 assists in 23 minutes, and Anthony Randolph, who scored 14 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in 22 minutes.
Terrence Jones made another solid contribution off the bench for the Rockets, scoring 13 points and grabbing 6 rebounds in 28 minutes. Jones also sank in 2 three-pointers, a shot that he has been working on throughout his time in the D-League. Donates Motiejunas scored 12 points while James Anderson added 11 points off the bench.
The magic number is still 2 for the Rockets to clinch a playoff spot. They next play the Phoenix Suns at the Toyota Center on Tuesday night.