Nuggets pose Mile High test for Rockets

Nuggets pose Mile High test for Rockets
January 30, 2013, 11:45 am
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The Rockets' three-game winning streak will be put to the test against the Nuggets on Wednesday night.

Like Houston, Denver is streaking with a four-game streak of their own. They've also won eight of their last 10 and are 17-3 at home this season.

Both the Nuggets and Rockets like to run. Denver's won both previous matchups when the two teams played each other earlier in the season: 93-87 in Houston on November 7 and 105-95 in Houston exactly a week ago on January 23.

However, that was when the Rockets were in their deep skid where they had lost eight of nine. Since then, after Kevin McHale switched up film session by showing the positive potential of what the Rockets accomplished earlier this season, the team has rolled off three straight victories, with each one getting more impressive. The most recent of these games came during Monday's 125-80 blowout win over the rival Jazz. The defense absolutely locked down the Jazz. Defensive rebounds were swallowed voraciously (thank you, Omer Asik). The team had only six turnovers total. The offensive efficiency was off the charts.

It's hard to expect everything to fall into place like that night in and night out, but if the Rockets can work their philosophies similar to at least what they did against the Nets, Wednesday night's game against the Nuggets should be interesting.

Denver's coming off a Monday victory over the Pacers and they did so without the services of both Wilson Chandler and JaVale McGee. Chandler scored 20 last week against Houston and has said he will play on Wednesday. McGee has a shin injury and his status is up in the air. He was pretty much up in the air against the Rockets last week in a different way, as he seemingly held a dunk contest in-game against Houston, with his most notable play perhaps coming when he bounced a pass off the backboard and slammed it home.

The Nuggets are still a dangerous team outside of Chandler and McGee. In six games against the Rockets over the last two seasons, Ty Lawson has averaged over 20 points and over seven assists. Andre Miller holds things together as his backup. Danilo Gallinari is a dangerous outside threat. No one can ever discount the value of both Andre Iguodala and Kenneth Faried.

One thing to look for is how the Nuggets defend Rockets All-Star-to-be James Harden. Before last week's game, Karl mentioned that he was keying on limiting Harden to below 10 free throws and hopefully five free throws. Harden was limited in that game to a 5-5 performance from the line. Of course, that Harden was in the midst of a shooting slump. In the last few games, Harden's become that much more aggressive to the hoop and his efficiency has gone up. It should be interesting to see how the Nuggets try to limit Harden from going to the basket, perhaps daring him to shoot the jump shot or trapping him to make sure the ball gets out of his hands. Harden turned the ball over seven times that night, but he has no turnovers over his last two games.

Whatever happens, the Rockets will have their hands full on Wednesday, but that just means this will be a true test for their recent run of good basketball.