The Denver Nuggets once again played fairly well under interim coach Melvin Hunt, scoring at least 100 points for the fourth straight game and 24 fast break points, again playing at a higher tempo. However, the Nuggets fell short again to the Houston Rockets 114-100, Denver is now 0-3 this season against Houston and 22-41 overall. The Nuggets really struggled shooting the ball, settling mainly for quick three's and jump shots on the offensive end. Denver shot 30 three's in this game and only 41% from the field.
The Nuggets pace was good and they were active on the defensive end, they did a good job pressuring the ball and getting into passing lanes to force steals. Denver finished with 16 steals, 8 blocks and forced 22 turnovers from the Rockets, while converting 31 points on those turnovers. The Nuggets unfortunately started to gas as the game wore on, clearly looking effected from last night's 120-111 loss to the Spurs. Denver committed 18 turnovers of their own, allowing the Rockets to get out and score easy buckets in the open floor. The Rockets finished with 25 fast break points and scored 23 points off of Denver's turnovers.
The Rockets also moved to 23-4 in games James Harden, has at least ten free throw attempts or more. Harden went 10-11 from the charity strike and finished with 28 points in the win for Houston. The Rockets shot 32 free throw attempts as a team, converting on 28 Denver fouls a problem that has plagued the Nuggets all season. Former Nugget Corey Brewer had a field day against his former team, finishing with 24 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals off the bench for Houston. C-Brew shot 9-16 from the field, 5-6 from the free throw line and really got the tempo going for Houston, in the second quarter by securing offensive rebounds and getting steals. Brewer's last play of the game had to be satisfying, dunking over former teammate Danilo Gallinari and getting the foul call.
Other negatives for the Nuggets in this game, their bench was outscored 34-26, they got outscored 48-36 in the paint and gave up 11 offensive rebounds to the Rockets. One of the biggest reasons I felt Denver lost, was the play of Danilo Gallinari in this game. Gallo only finished with 11 points and shot 3-15 from the field, 1-7 from beyond the arc and really took some questionable shots here. Motiejunas also continued to be a Nuggets killer this season, finishing with 18 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists on 6-9 shooting from the field. He made two huge shots down the stretch for Houston, one of which was after he hit Faried with a beautiful move on the low block. The Lithuanian had his way with just about every Denver defender on the low block in this game and really took advantage of Denver's lack of size.
I really wouldn't mind seeing Joffrey Lauvergne get some more run, in coach Hunt's rotation. He had some really solid minutes in this game and always plays with great energy. Lauvergne had only 4 points and 3 rebounds, in 8 minutes against Houston, but in those short minutes he made a good impact on the defensive glass for Denver. There was a play in this game, where Lauvergne was able to secure two or three defensive rebounds in a row, before eventually getting fouled.
The Nuggets really struggled with Houston's length in this game, giving up 11 offensive rebounds and allowing easy second chance point opportunities for the Rockets. Lauvergne being 6'11 and one of the Nuggets tallest players, really should start getting a look from coach Hunt. He can help Denver deal with opposing team's size and provide the Nuggets, with a consistent defensive rebounder off the bench.