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Preview: reeling Nuggets try to handle the Rockets

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Of course, the Rockets have seven losses...

Houston Rockets v Indiana Pacers Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets come to Denver looking to get healthy against the Nuggets, losers of three in a row. Carmelo Anthony will not be returning to the Pepsi Center with the Rockets, as his time with them is nearing a close per several reports including this one from Marc Stein. There are still plenty of future hall of famers to worry about on the Houston roster though, and slowing James Harden and a nicked up Chris Paul will be Denver’s first order of business. The Rockets have only won one game against a Western Conference opponent so far this year, and Denver doesn’t want to let them notch a second win in the Mile High city.

The Basics

Who: Houston Rockets (5-7) at Denver Nuggets (9-4)

When: 7:00 PM MST

Where: The Can, Denver CO

How to watch/listen: Altitude TV, AltitudeNOW.com, the AltitudeNOW app and Altitude Sports Radio 92.5FM

Rival Blog: The Dream Shake

Injury Report

Isaiah Thomas - out (hip), Will Barton - out (groin), Michael Porter Jr - out (back), Jarred Vanderbilt - out (foot), Carmelo Anthony - out (worn-out welcome), Brandon Knight - out (knee), Nene - out (calf), Gerald Green - out (ankle), Clint Capela - questionable (knee)

Three Things to Watch

Can Jamal Murray handle Chris Paul’s on-ball pressure? Murray has had some trouble taking care of the ball under pressure this season, whether it was Lonzo Ball stealing his lunch money in Los Angeles, or the Celtics forcing him into a bunch of first-quarter turnovers. His solution to that has partly been not to pass it, but that only works if his shot is falling - and it hasn’t been since the Boston game. CP3 loves to harass opposing point guards with iffy handles and happens to have led the league in steals six times (!). If Murray stays loose with the ball in this one, some inopportune turnovers are assuredly in Denver’s future.

Which team will bring defense to the party? In theory, this should be the Nuggets. They’ve been quite a good defensive team, ranking fifth in defensive rating to Houston’s 20th. The Rockets haven’t been world-beaters on offense either, having broken the 100-point mark just once in the last five games. Houston’s defensive guru, former Nuggets head coach Jeff Bzdelik, is returning from his brief retirement to right the ship after Thanksgiving but the Nuggets should have a clear advantage here.

And yet, anyone who watched Denver and Houston play last year would come away with the impression that the Nuggets would remain helpless against the Harden/Capela pick and roll forever. It was a thing of beauty and it destroyed Denver’s defensive attempts last year. This Houston offense is currently nowhere near last year’s after an off-season reshaping that put a second nose on the Mona Lisa. It’s still up to Denver to stop it, and to right the ship after three close and frustrating losses in the last week.

Rainbow jerseys! Let’s gooooooooooooo!

Prediction: the Nuggets can’t lose four in a row, and while bringing back the rainbow can they? Nah - gotta be a win. 114-105 Nuggets.

Poll

Does Denver break its losing streak tonight?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Yes - they are primed for it and the Rockets are still struggling
    (142 votes)
  • 32%
    No - the struggles continue as poor personnel matches doom Denver
    (108 votes)
  • 23%
    It’s a tie - just kidding, they’re definitely winning because THE RAINBOW JERSEYS ARE UNDEFEATED
    (78 votes)
328 votes total Vote Now