Clint Capela posted his first 20-point, 20-rebound game and the Houston Rockets ran roughshod over the Denver Nuggets 130-104 on Friday at Toyota Center, recording their seventh consecutive win.
Capela finished with 23 points and a career-high 25 rebounds in 29 minutes, dominating his matchup with Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (14 points, seven rebounds, five assists). Capela added two blocked shots for the Rockets, who have won 11 of 12 games since All-Star guard James Harden returned from a seven-game injury hiatus due to a left hamstring strain.
Harden tallied 28 points, seven rebounds and 11 assists in the wire-to-wire triumph. Harden and Capela carried the Rockets for most of the game before their teammates chipped in during the third quarter, with Houston methodically adding to the double-digit lead it built in the first.
Wilson Chandler (11 points) joined Jokic as the only starters in double figures for the Nuggets, who had their three-game winning streak snapped. Denver had won six of eight games, including home victories over the Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors. But this marked the second time this season Denver proved no match for the Rockets, with Houston coasting to a 30-point home victory in the first meeting between the teams on Nov. 22.
Trey Lyles scored 24 points off the bench for the Nuggets.
Houston seized a 21-9 lead with a 7-0 spurt in the first quarter and extended that advantage to 14 points with 3-pointers from Ryan Anderson, Harden, and Gerald Green (16 points). The Rockets shot 57.1 percent in their 35-point first quarter and despite cooling off in the second, extended their lead to 63-46 at the intermission when Harden sank a 3-pointer just prior to the buzzer.
When Harden converted a transition layup at the 5:06 mark of the third quarter for a 28-point lead, Denver coach Michael Malone yanked his starters from the game. On the opening possession of the fourth, Eric Gordon nailed a 3-pointer to extend the advantage to 100-70.
Houston led by as many as 35 points. The Nuggets were a paltry 3 of 28 from behind the arc. While the Rockets were 19 of 41.
—Field Level Media