Nuggets defeat Rockets 105-85
HOUSTON (AP) Danilo Gallinari scored 23 points and the Denver Nuggets never trailed in a 105-85 victory over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night in the season opener for both teams.
The Nuggets were up by nine points with about 9 minutes remaining when they used a 6-0 run - with four points from Emmanuel Mudiay - to extend the lead to 85-72 and send fans streaming to the exits.
James Harden led Houston with 22 points, but made just 6 of 21 shots and was 2 of 12 from 3-point range.
Two free throws by Harden cut the lead to six late in the third quarter before Denver closed out the period with seven straight points, highlighted by a 3-pointer by Gallinari to make it 76-63.
Kenneth Faried added 18 points and nine rebounds for Denver while Mudiay had 17 points but also committed 11 turnovers.
The Nuggets scored 26 points off 16 turnovers by Houston.
Point guard Ty Lawson made his debut for the Rockets after being traded from the Nuggets this offseason. He finished with 12 points and six assists.
The Nuggets jumped to a 12-1 lead when Houston made its first field goal, a 3-pointer by Lawson with 7:28 left in the first quarter.
The Rockets got within two points after consecutive 3s by Patrick Beverley and Lawson early in the second quarter. But Denver scored the next six points to push the lead to 35-27.
Houston was playing without Dwight Howard who was serving a one-game suspension for getting a fourth flagrant foul point in the postseason. The suspension came when he made what the NBA called unnecessary contact with his forearm to the neck area of Golden State's Andre Iguodala in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals where Houston was eliminated.