James Harden scored a game-high 41 points and helped close out the Houston Rockets’ 12th consecutive victory, a 119-114 win over the host Denver Nuggets on Sunday at Pepsi Center.
After the Nuggets cut what was a 100-83 deficit earlier in the fourth quarter to four points, Harden sank a pair of free throws before drilling a step-back jumper over Jamal Murray. Harden shot 11 of 20 from the field, including 6 of 10 on 3-point attempts, while adding eight rebounds and seven assists.
Chris Paul chipped in 23 points and six assists while Trevor Ariza scored 14 for the Rockets.
Will Barton paced Denver with 25 points while Nikola Jokic had his streak of games with a triple-double snapped at three, posting 21 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists.
Murray scored 19 for the Nuggets, who had their five-game home winning streak snapped. Denver produced an 18-6 run midway through the fourth to muster tension yet fell to 0-3 against the Rockets.
Harden keyed the Rockets’ dominance in the first quarter, pouring in 17 points in the period to help Houston to a 13-point advantage entering the second. He was particularly effective down the stretch of the period, blitzing Denver for 13 points over the final two minutes of the frame.
Harden followed his four-point play at the 2:12 mark with a three-point play the following possession, victimizing Nuggets guard Devin Harris both times. He added a 3-pointer with 1:01 left before adding three free throws when Harris fouled him again with 29.3 seconds remaining.
Houston extended to an 18-point lead early in the second quarter before opening the door for Denver with a flurry of turnovers. During one six-possession stretch, the Rockets were guilty of five miscues, enabling the Nuggets to cut the deficit to 45-38 when Barton scored in transition.
The Rockets found stability when Harden returned, pushing their lead to 66-48 before Denver managed the final four points of the half. Harden had 27 points on 7-of-12 shooting in the half.
—Field Level Media