Houston also had no answer inside for Nikola Jokic, who rumbled for 31 points on 12-15 from the field to go along with 13 rebounds and 9 assists. The Rockets couldn’t stop Jokic from scoring or making plays no matter who they put on him, and he roasted Kenneth Faried and Isaiah Hartenstein with equal effectiveness.
The true story was, however, that the Rockets gave up 62 points in the paint to Denver one game after giving up 70 to the New Orleans Pelicans, and they also gave up 24 fast break points, the vast majority of which ended in thunderous dunks for the Nuggets. Denver had 83 points (yes, you read that correctly) at halftime.
Kenneth Faried was effective again offensively for the Rockets, scoring 23 points on 9-13 shooting and grabbing 6 boards, but he simply doesn’t have the size to hold down the middle of the paint.
The biggest beneficiary from Houston’s open highway to the bucket was Malik Beasley, who went for 35 points on 12-17 shooting, including 5-9 from three. That means he was 7-8 from two, many of them unimpeded.
As for the Rockets, James Harden led the way in the scoring department, going for 30 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists, and 2 steals to keep his streak of 30-point games going at 25, but he was 9-21 from the field and continues to look visibly gassed.
Chris Paul helped pick up the slack offensively tonight, going for 20 points and 6 assists on 8-13 shooting, and Eric Gordon had 17 points on 6-9 from the field before leaving in the second half with a sore knee. He did not return and his status is up in the air.
Houston shot 53 percent from the field themselves, they drained 16 triples on the night, and they only had 10 turnovers, but nothing’s going to work until they get this defense back on track.
In addition to Jokic and Beasley, the Nuggets also had big nights from Torrey Craig, who finished with 22 points and some big dunks of his own, Monte Morris who had 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists off the bench, and they got 10 apiece from Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee.
The Rockets have now lost two in a row and fall to 29-22 on the year. They’re back in action tomorrow night for a tough back-to-back in Utah, and they’ll be searching for any answers on defense.