DENVER (AP) — James Harden scored 19 of his 22 points in the second half and the Houston Rockets pulled away to beat Denver 109-99 on Tuesday night, sending the Nuggets to a fourth straight loss.
Harden also had 11 assists, with several going to Clint Capela, who led the Rockets with 24 points, including a series of dunks. Chris Paul added 21 points for Houston, playing for a third straight game without Carmelo Anthony because of what the team said was an illness.
Monte Morris had 19 points for the Nuggets, who have lost their last eight meetings with Houston. Gary Harris and Jamal Murray added 15 points apiece.
A step-back shot by Murray got Denver within four points midway through the fourth quarter but Harden went on a tear, scoring 11 straight Houston points to put the Rockets up 104-91 with 3:48 remaining.
The Nuggets closed the gap to six points in the waning moments but the Rockets got a couple of free throws from Paul and a dunk from Capela to hold on.
Down by a point at the break, the Rockets opened up an 86-76 lead going into the final quarter. After a pair of free throws by Paul Millsap pulled Denver to 74-72, the Rockets closed the final 4 1/2 minutes of the third period on a 12-4 run capped by Eric Gordon’s driving layup.
Murray hit a jumper in the final seconds of the second quarter to give the Nuggets a 55-54 halftime lead.
Rockets: G/F Gerald Green missed a second game due to a right ankle sprain, but is nearing a return. Green could be available to play as soon as their next game on Thursday night, according to coach Mike D’Antoni. ... C Nene remains sidelined by a right calf strain that has forced him to miss the past 12 games.
Nuggets: F Juancho Hernangomez was in the starting lineup for a second straight game. Hernangomez was inserted into the lineup as part of the Nuggets search for a replacement for injured Will Barton, who remains sidelined indefinitely with a hip injury.
Rockets: Host the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night.
Nuggets: Host Atlanta on Thursday night.