The Denver Nuggets came tonight with only one victory over the Houston Rockets in the past three seasons. The Rockets came tonight with an eight-game winning streak. Despite the long-term and recent history, it is the Nuggets that will end the victory. Denver has played a good defensive scheme to limit James Harden to his lowest scoring output since opening night. Nikola Jokic led the way for Denver while getting a full-time effort from the rest of the team. Denver has found a way to capture the Rockets monkey and get this one 105-95.
The Nuggets opened the game with buckets in their first three possessions to take a 7-0 lead. The Rockets fought back, assisted by a pair of sloppy Denver turnovers, and led 10-9. The Rockets would end up scoring thirteen immediately before Gary Harris ended the run with a transition dunk. Harden had a quick seven points but Denver always doubled and made other players hit. That approach worked well and Houston's offense stopped midway through the quarter. The Nuggets broke their 13-0 run of their own and forced a Houston time as they threw the lead to seven. Banks started checking in afterwards. Westbrook finally knocked down a three to end the Rockets' drought with just over two minutes left. Harden and Westbrook accounted for most of Houston's points in the first but the Nuggets had enough to go ahead and lead 27-22 after one.
The second quarter opens a clank festival for Denver. They went one in six to open the quarter before Juancho Hernangomez had a big putback dunk and Mason Plumlee followed with a small bully ball inside. By early in the second quarter Denver had retained a small lead but wasted an opportunity to take control of the game due to their offensive struggles. However, the Nuggets are doing a good job of frustrating Harden and keeping him at bay. While the rest of the starters returned to the Nuggets offense was a bit stopped but they retained their lead. Each time Houston started close to tied the game the Nuggets had a response. Jokic in particular is having success. He gives the Rockets plenty of trouble with the paint and the offensive glass. On the other hand Harden and Westbrook proved to be just enough to keep the Rockets hanging. Harden nailed a step back three straight before the half, he and Westbrook combined for thirty's two first half points that limited the Nuggets to just three points.
The Nuggets opened half of the same strategy they had before: double Harden and be content to let the rest of the Rockets have an open shot. Houston continues to struggle beyond the arc and the strategy continues to pay off. However, the Nuggets are cold from the floor and cannot extend their lead. The defense effort is unique. Houston was completely bored by the way Denver approached them on defense and Denver was able to take advantage of the fast break opportunities that would finally gain some offensive momentum and stretch their lead to eight. No player is dominant on offense but Denver has a good all-round effort. They kept the lead right at around ten as the quarter moved towards the back half. Houston finally gained momentum as they returned seven from Chris Clemons and Harden and restored the lead to under ten. Denver made the bench as Westbrook and Harden closed out the quarter. After three the Nuggets came in at nine.
The bench brought in energy to start the fourth, Hernangomez in particular having another good night. Houston's energy wasn't strong enough to open last quarter. It's important that they make a pass and shoot it while the Nuggets are relentless. However, as happened all night, when the Nuggets had the opportunity to really blow things open their offense went cold. However, the defense held strong and created transition opportunities. Torrey Craig featured a Nuggets run with a 360 dunk on a break and the lead back in the top ten. Halfway to the Nuggets' quarterback was in the spotlight but he didn't quite fit in a couple basket to complete the job. Also, when Houston started stopping, they became cold on offense. With just four minutes to go and the Nuggets up fourteen coach Mike D & # 39; Antoni said he stopped and went to his reserves. No one scored for another minute or so before Jokic got in and then Isaiah Hartenstein made a quiet goaltend to give Craig one and it was a waste of time. The Nuggets got a big 105-95 win.
Best matchup: Nikola Jokic vs. Clint Capela
The big boys are having their best night. Jokic was the leading force in the offensive end for the Nuggets and was able to hurt both low and out of the three-point line. He was very good at shooting as the Rockets seemed to be content to let him shoot seven and also gave him a way too many looks from about five to ten feet. Capela is not very effective at scoring, but he is an absolute monster in the glass. The Nuggets' consistent doubling with Harden eliminated Capela's many pick and roll games which helped him keep the bay. However, Capela is a big factor for the Rockets.
Main thing I noticed: the Nuggets released the Rockets tonight
The Nuggets have a long line of struggles with the Rockets but most of them start with James Harden. Tonight's strategy is clear: it contains Harden at all costs. Denver threw the double team after the double team at Harden but they were smart about it. The Nuggets often wait until the action begins before throwing a double to James. This had the effect of gumming up the Rockets offense and leaving them stuck in no man’s land unsure of where to go. That resulted in a bunch of turnovers and eventually one of the poor performances from Harden of the season (still scored 27). Who knows if what might happen tonight could be repeated but for at least one night the Nuggets didn't look too much in the Houston match.
Closing Thought: Juancho Was Great
It was a bit of a shock when Hernangomez suddenly started the minute round Malik Beasley but the move paid dividends for the Nugget. Again he is unique in his energy tonight. Juancho is one of those people who does enough things that you can put him in almost any lineup. He keeps doing all the little things while also running when his number is called and even if you don't blow his box scores, his impact on the game is huge.