Houston’s defense sparks Rockets to rout of Nuggets

Known for their high-powered offense, the Rockets downed Denver on Thursday night with a big defensive performance.

“We played great defense tonight,” head coach Mike D’Antoni said. “If we can do that, then I don’t care who’s out there.”

James Harden scored 38 points and the Rockets used a huge second quarter to build the lead and get a 112-85 win over the Nuggets in Houston.

The Rockets trailed by as many as seven in the first quarter, but built a 62-44 lead at halftime behind a 40-point second quarter.

Houston was up by 22 at the start of the fourth and a 5-0 run, with a 3 from Harden, made it 102-78 with five minutes remaining. D’Antoni cleared the bench with 3½ minutes to go after the Rockets extended that run to 10-0, with another 3-pointer from Harden.

The victory is Houston’s third in four games.

The Nuggets, who fell a game behind the first-place Warriors in the Western Conference, got 20 points from Jamal Murray as they lost for the second time in three games after winning their previous six.

Spurs 116, Cavaliers 110: DeMar DeRozan had 25 points and host San Antonio celebrated Manu Ginobili’s number retirement ceremony by beating Cleveland. Collin Sexton had 24 points for the Cavaliers.

Bucks 128, Clippers 118: Giannis Antetokounmpo had 34 points and nine rebounds before leaving with an apparent lower leg injury and host Milwaukee ended Los Angeles’ winning streak at six games. Antetokounmpo went to the floor and held his right ankle after dunking with 7:46 left. He immediately went to the bench and didn’t return.

Raptors 117, Knicks 92: Pascal Siakam scored 31 points and visiting Toronto routed New York. . Rookie Mitchell Robinson had season highs of 19 points and 21 rebounds for the Knicks.

Heat 105, Mavericks 99: Goran Dragic had 23 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists for his second career triple-double, Dwyane Wade capped the win with a steal and score in the final seconds and host Miami beat Dallas to move back into eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

76ers 123, Nets 110: Joel Embiid had 39 points, 13 rebounds and six assists to lead host Philadelphia to victory over Brooklyn. JJ Redick scored 18 points and Ben Simmons had 16 points and eight assists for the 76ers.

Pistons 115, Magic 98: Wayne Ellington scored 17 of his 25 points in the third quarter and host Detroit defeated Orlando. The Pistons moved a half-game ahead of Brooklyn for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference.

Pelicans 121, Kings 118: Julius Randle capped a 34-point, 11-rebound night with a driving left-handed bank shot between two defenders with eight seconds left and host New Orleans beat Sacramento.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Houston-s-defense-sparks-Rockets-to-rout-of-13725534.php.

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