The Rockets have played from in front most of this season. But for most of the season, their leads have disappeared. That was not the case on Saturday as they beat the Denver Nuggets 122-111. The Rockets took the lead into seconds into the game and did not relinquish it.
“We hit first tonight,” Dwight Howard said. “We started the game off right. That’s what we have to do against good teams. We have to continue to do that to be a championship contending team.”
Each of the Rockets' first five shots dropped through the twine and by then they already led, 12-2. Denver would get no closer than six points the rest of the game.
“Great start for the team, that was huge,” Chandler Parsons said. “It’s tough when you get down against these teams and try and get back (in the game)."
Nuggets center J.J. HIckson noted the slow start really was the Nuggets undoing.
“We made a lot of mental mistakes and a lot of defensive mistakes,” he said. “I think by the second half we dug ourselves into a hole that was too big and it was just too late.”
The Nuggets were able to put a run together in the second half. They shaved a 17-point halftime deficit down to seven points in just over three and a half minutes to start the third quarter. They had a chance to slice it to five, but Terrence Jones delivered one of the Rockets nine blocks in the game. He grabbed the loose ball, started the fast break and found Parsons for the slam.
Moments later, Pat Beverley hit one of the Rockets' nine 3-pointers and the lead was back to 12 points. Denver never seriously threatened again.
“That was huge, too,” Parsons said of the Rockets' response to the Nuggets second half run. “Last couple of games, we’ve been up seven, then they cut it to three, then it’s a tie game. Instead of letting them do that again, we kept extended the lead and we got some big stops. We kept going in transition and didn’t slow down too much.”
The Rockets 122 points are a new season high and they shot 42.9 percent (9-21) from behind the 3-point line, which is also a new season-best.
Jones has been very productive in his first three career starts, turning in his second double-double, with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Both marks tied his career highs. He’s also had 10 blocked shots over his last four games since joining the rotation.
“I’m just trying to get better each game, continuing to stay on the boards,” Jones said. “All of the guarding and just running the color as hard as I can.”