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Rockets pound Nuggets behind James Harden, Chris Paul

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The Rockets head into the Thanksgiving break on a high note.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Houston Rockets Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden finished with 21 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 assists, while Chris Paul looked dominant in going for 23 points and 11 assists, and the Rockets jumped out to a massive 75-40 intermission lead that eventually led to a 125-95 defeat of the Denver Nuggets.

The Rockets missed their first six shots of the game, but then proceeded to go 26 for their next 29 from the field in building a 35-point lead before the break that would eventually balloon to 50 at one point in the second half.

Houston also used a suffocating defense to build their first-half lead, holding Denver to just 34 percent shooting before the break and only 39 percent for the entire game.

But the big story was CP3 looking every bit the player we hoped we were getting and combining with The Beard to look nearly unstoppable, and that was with both Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson missing the game with illness/injury.

Paul was knocking down mid-range shots and threes on his way to 8-11 from the field and 4-7 from deep, and he ran a sublime pick and roll with both Nene and Clint Capela. It was a true tour de force that would have looked even better statistically had Paul played more than just 28 minutes. In fact, the entire Houston starting lineup had an early night, as head coach Mike D’Antoni subbed the entire bench early in the fourth period.

In addition to the big nights from Harden and Paul, the Rockets also got 25 points from Trevor Ariza, who shot 7-10 from beyond the arc. They also got 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals from Luc Mbah a Moute, and 13 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists from Nene, who stepped in for a struggling Clint Capela, who finished with just 8 points and 8 boards. Capela had his issues with Nikola Jokic, but the young Denver center was no match for the strength and veteran savvy of the Brazilian big man.

The Rockets shot 55 percent overall for the game and went 18-41 from three, and they racked up 30 assists on their 45 buckets in a dominating offensive performance.

The Nuggets were led by Will Barton, who put in 20 points, Jokic, who finished with 17, and Gary Harris, who put in 13, but they were really never in this game past the opening minutes. The only questions was how big the final point differential would be.

The Rockets move to 14-4 on the season, and with the Golden State Warriors falling tonight to the Oklahoma City Thunder, now stand in single possession of first place in the Western Conference standings.

They’ll return to action on Saturday night, hanging around the Toyota Center for a rematch with the New York Knicks.

In the meantime, enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday and the fact the Rockets head into this short break on as positive of a note as could be expected.

Happy Turkey Day, everyone!