Denver Nuggets 129, Houston Rockets 116: Three takeaways

by Alex Labidou
Nuggets.com Staff Writer
@LabidouA

The Nuggets had an emphatic reply to their disappointing showing in the Bay Area with a dominant 129-116 victory over Rockets.

Denver’s outburst on offense against Houston was a clear bounce-back from Friday evening, where it could only muster 97 against the Warriors.

Nikola Jokić was one of several Nuggets to get back to his best, putting another near triple-double with 24 points, 12 assists, and eight boards in just 29 minutes. He also missed only four of his 14 shots. D.J. Wilson was the top man for the struggling Rockets with 25 points and eight rebounds.

"I thought we played with a lot more energy and effort than we did last night. But there's definitely some things that we can clean up and get better at. We're going to need to because we have a very, very difficult schedule coming up," Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said. 

Malone’s team will now look to build on this victory in the second of their four-game homestand as it hosts the Memphis Grizzlies Monday (7 p.m. MT, Altitude).

Here are the takeaways

Career night for MPJ

Michael Porter Jr. hit 28 threes in his last 10 games. He can add eight to that tally as he had the best scoring night of his young career, pouring in a career-high 39 points on 13 of 21 shooting.

The second-year forward didn’t limit his damage to the behind-the-arc, he was also effective in scoring inside as well. While the 6-foot-11 isn’t known for his dribble-drives, he was persisted with it against the Rockets and rewarded with five trips to the line – converting on all five.

Porter Jr. also added six rebounds and two assists on the night.

Offense dominates

While Malone won’t be content with the Nuggets allowing the 15-45 Rockets to shoot 48.3 percent through the opening three quarters, he won’t have any complaints about the other side of the ball. The Nuggets connected on 16 threes on an impressive 43.2 percent shooting. They dished 36 assists to 14 turnovers and the passing led to the Nuggets shooting a sizzling 59.5 percent overall.

Facundo Campazzo was the catalyst for the crisp passing as he had an NBA career-high 13 dimes in the contest. Jokić also had several great assists, including two John Elway-esque dishes to PJ Dozier, who slammed on both dimes.

While it is important to not get carried away with a rout over the lowly Rockets, Saturday was a confidence boost for a Nuggets team that saw another injury Friday with Will Barton III going down.

PJ Dozier shines in first start

With Barton III sidelined, Dozier got his first NBA start and took full advantage of the opportunity. The 24-year-old was the third Nugget to have a career night, as he also posted a personal-best in scoring with 23 points on 10 of 13 shooting while adding seven boards and three dimes.

"I've been playing this way for a long time, just early on, shots haven't really been falling. But like I said, I'm going to have confidence in myself," Dozier said. "I know what I'm capable of, the coaching staff knows what I'm capable of and ultimately, my teammates know. I just have to continue to have that confidence in myself to make the right play.” 

Dozier earned his place on the Nuggets due to his defensive efforts and versatility, but being consistent on offense is still an area he’s working on. While it would be unfair to expect 23 points a night, the guard showed an incredible comfort level with Jokić.

With Barton III set to be out for the foreseeable future, according to Malone, Dozier has a chance to replicate some of the production of the veteran guard. Saturday was a great start.

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