Photo by Troy Taormina/USA Today

Harden's Double-Double Leads Rockets Over Nuggets

32-point, 14-assist night helps Rockets pull to within 3.5 games of 1-seed

January 07, 2019 - 11:46 pm

HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610)- It took close to two full quarter before James Harden made his first field goal attempt Monday night at Toyota Center, but it didn't stop him from scoring 32 points in the Rockets 125-113 win over the Denver Nuggets. 

Harden only made seven field goal attempts all night, but six came from long distance, and he also knocked down 12-of-15 free throw attempts as the Rockets pulled to within 3.5 games of the top spot in the Western Conference with a 22-16 record.

Clint Capela scored a career-high 31 points, while P.J. Tucker drained a career-high seven three-pointers. He drilled six straight after missing his first two. 

Gerald Green added 21 off the bench with the help of six three-point makes.

Despite 13 Houston free throws, Denver led 35-33 after a quarter, and the Nuggets maintained their lead for much of the first half of the second quarter, but Clint Capela's 3-point play with 5:58 left before halftime put Houston up 48-47. The Rockets led by two after Gary Harris made a pair of free throws less than two minutes later, but a 14-3 Houston run put the Rockets up 13 and they led by 10 at halftime.

Harden finished the half with 18 points on just six field goal attempts. He made half, all from behind the 3-point line while nine free throws, adding seven assists. Nikola Jokic's 15 points led the Nuggets. 

Denver scored the first four points of the second half, but the Rockets scored the next six, and built their lead to 14, but Denver cut it half by the time the third quarter ended, and Mason Plumlee's layup with 10:02 left in the fourth quarter brought the Nuggets within six, but Harden's step-back three with 4:32 to play capped a 15-4 run, putting the Rockets up 17.

Jokic led the Nuggets with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Monte Morris chipped in 21 off the bench as Denver drops to 26-12.

Up next for the Rockets will be a battle with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday night at Toyota Center in a battle of MVP favorites.