The Denver Nuggets could not figure out a way to slow James Harden on Saturday and ended up with a 109-105 home loss. The Nuggets will get another chance on Monday, when they visit Harden and the Houston Rockets for the back end of a home-and-home set.
Harden recorded his 19th triple-double of the season and NBA-record seventh with at least 40 points when he went for 40 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists at Denver on Saturday. The triple-double was the fourth straight and second in a row with at least 40 points for the MVP candidate, who has his team comfortably in the No. 3 spot in the Western Conference. The Nuggets are less secure in their standing and occupy the No. 8 spot with the Portland Trail Blazers just 1 1/2 games back - one in the loss column - entering play on Sunday. Saturday’s setback snapped a four-game winning streak for Denver, which plays nine of its final 13 games on the road beginning with Monday’s tilt.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Altitude (Denver), ROOT Southwest (Houston)
ABOUT THE NUGGETS (33-36): Denver hung with the Rockets on Saturday despite missing two of its top three scorers (Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler) due to injury and with budding star Nikola Jokic limited to 22 minutes by foul trouble. “We could easily have won the game if we made free throws and finished around the basket,” Nuggets coach Mike Malone told reporters. “I‘m proud of the effort. We did a lot of good things. Clean up the undisciplined errors we made and hope for a different result when we play them (Monday) down in Houston.” Gallinari (knee) and Chandler (groin) are both day-to-day.
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (48-22): Harden is the engine that drives Houston but the team continues to get strong work from the supporting cast as well. Center Clint Capela went up against the big Denver front line on Saturday and came away with 16 points and eight rebounds to help the Rockets build up a 60-48 advantage on points in the paint. The 22-year-old Capela is shooting 63.6 percent from the floor on the season and he scored at least 15 points in four of the last six games.
1. Nuggets PF Darrell Arthur (knee) missed the last three games and is day-to-day.
2. Rockets PG Patrick Beverley went 1-of-7 from the floor on Saturday and is shooting 21.4 percent over the last six games.
3. Houston took the first two meetings this season after Denver swept the series in 2015-16.
PREDICTION: Rockets 112, Nuggets 109