HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 22: Mason Plumlee #24 of the Denver Nuggets dunks against the Houston Rockets on November 22, 2017 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
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Nuggets Offense Stalls in Loss to Rockets

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider
@chrisadempsey

HOUSTON – The Houston Rockets got rolling early and never took their feet off the gas pedal in an 125-95 win over the Nuggets on Wednesday night at the Toyota Center.

Things got away from the Nuggets quickly.

Chris Paul put an early stamp on his first home game as a member of the Rockets. All season he’d only played in three road games, which sandwiched a significant stint out of the lineup due to injury. But he was back in a big way on Wednesday, controlling the game through craftiness in pick-and-roll play and forcing the Nuggets to adjust to a myriad of points being scored in the paint.

When the Nuggets did adjust, the Rockets turned to their trademark 3-point shooting. They hit five 3-pointers in the second quarter, and pushed a lead all the way up to 37 points. Meanwhile, the Nuggets struggled to get much going, shooting 34 percent in the first half and scoring only 40 points.

But on the even in the midst of all of that, on the eve of Thanksgiving the Nuggets were thankful for one huge thing – that center Nikola Jokic finished the game. Jokic went down in the second quarter after he began running back to get on defense after making a layup. He was taken to the locker room briefly, but came back to the court after getting his right ankle re-taped. Jokic played all the way through the third quarter before coming out of the game for good.

By then, the Rockets were still in control.

Will Barton led the Nuggets with 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting and added six rebounds. Jokic finished with 17 points and six rebounds. Gary Harris had 13 points.

Trevor Ariza led the Rockets with 25 points, including seven 3-pointers, but it was Paul’s night in his home debut. He finished with 23 points and 12 assists. James Harden had 21 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.

The Nuggets finished the road trip 1-2 and return home to face Memphis on Friday.

Christopher Dempsey: christopher.dempsey@altitude.tv and @chrisadempsey on Twitter