The Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets got their game started in a hurry. They were trading baskets early on, and the two sides had combined for 25 points four minutes into the game with the Rockets leading 14-11 behind some hot shooting beyond the arc. Midway through the first quarter, Houston was leading by five while shooting over 70 percent from the field, and they were on pace for 46 points in the first. Following that hot start, the two teams forgot how to score as they combined for 10 points over the next four minutes of gameplay. As soon as the Nuggets tied the scored at 31 with around 2:00 remaining in the period, the Rockets promptly nailed another 3-pointer. After that slow spell, the two offenses must have read what I was typing because they got hot in a hurry with a flurry of late scoring which culminated in a triple banked in at the buzzer by Davon Reed to give the Nuggets a 42-39 lead heading into the second quarter.
The two sides started the second quarter a little slow, but they began to heat up a couple of minutes into the period. Denver went on a little bit of a run, and the Rockets answered with one of their own prior to the starting lineups re-entering the game. Jamal Murray was playing a great game, and he hit his 700th career 3-pointer in the second quarter. Denver had built a brief lead midway through the quarter, and things unraveled a bit over the next few minutes. The Rockets were scorching the nets from 3-point range, and Denver was struggling to match it. With 1:43 remaining in the half, a key play occurred where Nikola Jokic was initially called for a charge that would have been his third foul in less than two minutes. Following a successful challenge, Alperen Sengun was sent to the bench with his third foul while Jokic got two at the charity stripe. Murray gave Denver the lead 70-68 with less than 20 seconds remaining in the half, and they were able to Houston from scoring on their final possession to lead at halftime following an explosive first half of play from the two sides.
The Nuggets started the second half hot with a quick seven-point run, and Murray was up to 27 points on the night less than two minutes into the second half. Denver got a couple of baskets to go their way, and they were up by eight for their largest lead of the night. The Rockets promptly went on a 7-0 run of their own over a span of 44 seconds, and they were back within one. Jokic was starting to take over the game, and he was up to 25 points midway through the third quarter. Denver got out to run, and they scored multiple times in a row to get their lead up to 10 points with just under five minutes to go in the quarter. The Rockets weren’t going down quietly, but Jokic was just having his way in the third quarter and seemingly couldn’t miss. Jokic stayed in with the second unit to end the third quarter, and that group went on a hell of a run. For the second time in the game, they drilled a shot at the buzzer to stretch their lead further, and they were ahead 106-91 heading into the final period.
The two sides opened the quarter by trading baskets before the Nuggets strung together a couple of possessions to really stretch their lead out, and they were leading by 20 with eight minutes remaining as the Rockets were searching for an answer to try and make a late run. Following a Houston timeout, neither offense was particularly keen on scoring with just five points scored over the next three minutes, and it appeared as though the Rockets were conceding the game with a lineup of all reserves on the floor. The Rockets tried to make a run over the next couple of minutes, but they just couldn’t get close enough to make Denver really sweat. Denver would go on to win their third straight game, and they were now 8-0 on the year when scoring 120 or more with a final score of 129-113.
Points: Nikola Jokic – 32
Assists: Nikola Jokic – 8
Rebounds: Jokic – 12
Player of the Game: Jamal Murray – 31 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block, 11-of-17 field goal, 4-of-8 3-point, 5-of-6 free throw