Notebook: Nuggets 105, Rockets 95



Posted Jan 23, 2013 11:50 PM

Matt Miller, for NBA.com

THE FACTS: The Denver Nuggets were more than happy to capitalize on the turnover-prone Houston Rockets' inability to battle through rough stretches of play to help coach George Karl earn career win 1,100.

Ty Lawson scored a team-high 21 points and dished out seven assists to lead five Nuggets in double-figures, as Denver became the latest team to make the Rockets pay for their numerous mental errors in a 105-95 victory Wednesday at Toyota Center. Wilson Chandler added 20 points and six rebounds for the Nuggets (26-18), who have won eight of their last 10 games overall and three of their last five on the road.

Denver swingman Andre Iguodala chipped in 14 points, six boards, five assists and three steals, in addition to delivering a stellar defensive effort against Houston guard James Harden. Iguodala joined Karl in reaching a career milestone, netting his 10,000th career point on a free throw with 10:20 remaining in the third quarter. Karl and Iguodala both, understandably, wanted the game ball. The elder Karl, however, claimed ownership of the rock in the locker room after the game.

Harden paced the Rockets (22-22) -- losers of seven of their last nine games -- with 34 points and seven assists, but he committed seven of his team's 23 turnovers. Carlos Delfino poured in 15 points off the bench.

QUOTABLE: "The accolades are because of so many other people more than me. But I've put a lot of losses on my belt, so maybe I'll take some accolades every now and then, too."
-- Karl on reaching 1,100 career coaching victories.

THE STAT: Both of these teams love to play an up-tempo style, but Houston had more success in this area during the first half as it outscored Denver 17-8 on the fast break. In the third period, however, the Nuggets dominated in transition while outscoring Houston 11-0 on the break.

TURNING POINT: Denver took control of a seemingly competitive game by cranking up its defensive intensity and beating the befuddled Rockets down the floor. The Nuggets limited Houston's penetration and forced low-percentage shot attempts, as well as five turnovers, during a 21-5 run that turned a 57-57 deadlock into a 78-62 Denver lead.

QUOTABLE II: "[The Nuggets] got some run-outs when we weren't getting back on defense. It's been like that for a while. It just snowballs with us. ... We're not able to pull ourselves out of those minor tailspins."
-- Rockets coach Kevin McHale on his players' lack of mental toughness.

HOT: Reserve center JaVale McGee steered clear of the "Shaqtin' A Fool" moments with which Nuggets fans are all too familiar. The 7-footer connected on six of seven shot attempts to go with three blocks, and he utilized his length and athleticism during Denver's game-changing spurt in the third quarter.

NOT: The Rockets have allowed at least 20 points off turnovers in seven of their last 10 games, giving up an average of 22.4 points off giveaways during this stretch. In fact, in its last two home contests, Houston's opponents have each finished with at least 28 points off turnovers.

BAD MOVE: The Rockets fell into a double-digit deficit for the 12th consecutive game, continuing to commit the careless turnovers that have plagued them all season. Houston does not have enough defensive talent to survive placing so much pressure on itself on that end of the court. Without a serious commitment to protecting the ball and operating efficiently on offense, the Rockets will soon find themselves completely out of contention for the Western Conference's final playoff spot.

GOOD MOVE: The Nuggets did not allow Houston's hot shooting from long distance during the opening period to deter them from executing their game plan. Instead of stretching its defense, Denver simply made crisper rotations around the perimeter as it limited the Rockets to 7-for-27 shooting (25.9 percent) from 3-point range after a 4-for-7 start.

NOTABLE: Iguodala, who finished with 14 points Wednesday, has poured in 10,005 points in his career. ... Denver has outscored its opponent in the paint in 25 games in a row. ... The Nuggets have won five consecutive meetings with the Rockets, including four straight in Houston. ... Lawson has scored at least 20 points in five consecutive games against the Rockets. ...Denver improved to 13-3 this season when it collects at least 10 steals and 17-3 when it allows less than 100 points. ... McGee has blocked at least three shots 14 times this season. ... The Nuggets will begin a six-game homestand Saturday against Sacramento. ... Houston fell to 3-12 this season when it makes less than 33.3 percent of its 3-point attempts.

UP NEXT: For the Nuggets: Saturday vs. Sacramento, Monday vs. Indiana, Wednesday vs. Houston. For the Rockets: Friday @ New Orleans, Saturday vs. Brooklyn, Monday @ Utah.