Home USA News Murray, Jokic lead Nuggets to rout Rockets 120-100

Murray, Jokic lead Nuggets to rout Rockets 120-100

27

DENVER (AP) — Jamal Murray had 26 points, Nikola Jokic had 10 of 12 assists in the first half…

DENVER (AP) — Jamal Murray scored 26 points, Nikola Jokic had 10 of 12 assists in the first half and the Denver Nuggets beat the Houston Rockets 120-100 on Wednesday night for their fourth straight win.

Jokic added 17 points and nine rebounds in just 27 minutes. Aaron Gordon had 20 points and Bruce Brown had 18 for Denver, which never trailed in a win over Houston for the second time in three days.

The Nuggets led 74-47 at halftime and Jokic made just two shots. Instead, he spent most of the half passing to Murray and other open teammates for easy buckets.

“I think it’s just me getting back into shape,” Murray said of the improved two-man play with Jokic as Murray regains his confidence after knee surgery. “He was waiting for me to take a picture or a screen for him. From the first game to now, you guys have seen improvement.”

No dish in the first half was better than when Jokic had to rush to grab a deflected pass from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on a run near the baseline, then threw transfer with bounce behind to Brown for a dunk.

“I didn’t think he saw me,” Brown said.

Kevin Porter Jr. had 23 points and Alperen Senggun had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Rockets, who trailed 6-0 and 13-2 and trailed by as many as 33 points.

“Against teams like Phoenix and Golden State, you can’t just take those games away,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said.

After Houston cut the deficit to 19 midway through the fourth quarter, an excited coach Michael Malone brought the kickoffs back and Jokic quickly made a jumper and a 3-pointer before feeding Caldwell-Pope for a pass.

Malone said his team’s model of playing just one strong half “isn’t good enough.”

“I told the coaches at halftime, ‘I’m more nervous now, despite where we were, than I was before the game,'” Malone said. “I know this team. I’ve seen it time and time and time and time again. It’s disappointing.”

The Nuggets shot 65.4% from the field and scored a season-high 44 points in the first quarter, building a 20-point lead. The bench doubled the advantage in the last three minutes: Vlatka Chanchar (13 points) scored two three-pointers and management of the tank after one of Houston’s six losses.

About the only bright spot for the Rockets, who slipped to a Western Conference-worst 5-16, was the play of Senggun. The sophomore, who grew up idolizing Jokic, shook off a tough first-half slump to make 8 of 12 shots, including coast to coast dunk.

TIPS

Rockets: The 44 points allowed in the first quarter were a season high. The previous worst was 42 by Denver two nights earlier. … F Jae’Sean Tate (right ankle) is at least a couple of weeks away from returning. “We miss him a lot,” Silas said.

Nuggets: G Bones Hyland (illness) was active, but Malone sat him out. … Michael Porter Jr. (left heel) and Jeff Green (right knee) worked on the floor before the game. Both have missed four straight games.

EDUCATION OF THE SCHEDULE

Denver has played just eight home games, the fewest in the NBA, and begins a two-game road trip on Friday. Despite this, the Nuggets improved to 14-7 and remain a game behind West-leading Phoenix.

“When the schedule came out in August, I knew it would be a challenge to get through October and November. And that would be if we were completely healthy, which we’re not,” Malone said. “So it’s really great for us to be where we are.”

FURTHER

Rockets: The four-game road trip continues Friday night in Phoenix.

Nuggets: At Atlanta on Friday night.

___

AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or distributed.

Source link