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Rockets 122, Nuggets

The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- Making his third consecutive start, Houston Rockets power forward Terrence Jones responded to a Denver Nuggets' run with dynamic two-way plays to lead his team to a 122-111 win Saturday night at Toyota Center.

Jones, the beneficiary of the midweek benching of Houston center Omer Asik, posted a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds while blocking three shots. After the Nuggets (4-5) closed to within seven points midway through the third quarter, Jones led an 18-4 spurt with a blocked shot, an outlet pass that resulted in a Chandler Parsons layup, two dunks, and some nifty board work that reenergized Houston (7-4).

With just over five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Nuggets began intentionally fouling Rockets center Dwight Howard, and Howard responded by making 13 of 19 free throws before Denver finally relented. The Rockets' lead ballooned to 115-101 during that stretch.

Howard finished with a team-high 25 points while Parsons added 20. Four other Houston players scored in double figures. Denver guard Ty Lawson scored 17 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter while adding 17 assists. Forwards Wilson Chandler and JJ Hickson had 14 points apiece as Denver had its seven-game series win streak snapped.

With 12 points on 4-for-4 shooting, Parsons provided the Rockets early momentum that their reserves carried deep into the second quarter. Parsons converted a pair of three-point plays in the first quarter before adding a four-point play for a 28-12 lead with 4:34 left in the period.

The Nuggets sliced that deficit to 10 points by the close of the first, but Rockets second-year forward Donatas Motiejunas shook off the cobwebs and supplied 11 points prior to the intermission. Motiejunas logged only nine minutes all season, but with Houston short two big men in its rotation, he took full advantage of the available playing time.

But just when the Rockets appeared on the verge of running away from Denver, the Nuggets rallied by attacking the rim once Howard sat with his third foul at the 2:57 mark of the second quarter. The Nuggets converted layups from Chandler and Lawson and two Hickson dunks to cut the deficit to 63-46 at the half.

NOTES: There has been some debate over the value of the Nuggets' depth, but in its 117-113 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night Denver had seven players score in double figures. Currently, 13 Nuggets average at least 15 minutes per game. "Right now it's been a luxury for us to have that (depth)," coach Brian Shaw said. "But I would like to settle into a rotation of maybe nine or 10 guys." ... Nuggets G Ty Lawson started against the Rockets despite suffering an abrasion to his right cornea against the Timberwolves. ... Rockets coach Kevin McHale announced pregame that disgruntled C Omer Asik was unavailable due to illness. According to reports, Asik requested a trade after he was removed from the starting lineup earlier this week. He had his streak of 239 consecutive games snapped in New York against the Knicks on Thursday night.
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