James Harden was a man on a mission Sunday night at Pepsi Center and was to much for the Nuggets to overcome in a 119-114 loss to the Houston Rockets.
The Rockets are currently the best team in the Western Conference, and they showed why Sunday night at Pepsi Center. James Harden proved that he’s the leader in the clubhouse in the MVP talk scoring 41 points, while also chipping in eight rebounds and seven assists. Harden consistently got to the line and did a phenomenal job drawing fouls against the Nuggets all night long.
James Harden with the step-back 👌!#Rockets
— NBA (@NBA) February 26, 2018
Harden was 11-20 from the field and made 13 of the 16 free-throws he attempted. Harden also drilled six three-pointers and stopped almost every Nuggets run with a run of his own. As a team, the Rockets shot 15-35 from behind the three-point line and also shot over 50 percent from the field for the game. Chris Paul also had a strong night for the Rockets scoring 23 points, while also dishing out six assists. With the win, the Rockets record moves to 46-13, which is the best in the NBA.
On the flip side, the Nuggets record now drops to 33-27 and moves them to the eighth spot in the Western Conference. With the West being as tight as it is, every game is crucial for the Nuggets where spots 3-10 are so close. The Nuggets are now just one game ahead of the Clippers for the ninth spot in the conference, but are also just a game behind the Trail Blazers for fifth place.
The Nuggets showed fight in the second half and were close to making it a one possession game late in the fourth quarter, but the clutch shots just weren’t falling. Nikola Jokic and Gary Harris combined to shoot just 9-30 and were a combined 0-6 from behind the arc. Harris struggled on the offensive end of the floor going just 2-12, but still affected the game definitely with five steals and one block. Jokic fell just short of his fourth consecutive triple-double with 21 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists.
Some positives for the Nuggets were Malik Beasley and Will Barton. Beasley played 21 minutes off the bench scoring nine points on 3-10 from the field, 2-5 from three. Even though Beasley struggled a little on offense, the energy he brought on defense was a breath of fresh air for a Nuggets team that was looking for a spark whenever the second unit came in. Barton led the Nuggets in scoring with 25 points on 10-15 from the field and had a Will “The Thrill” Barton mentality all night long.
🔥 WILLY B 🔥 pic.twitter.com/9nmWefowDv
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) February 26, 2018
The Nuggets now have a a day off tomorrow before they welcome the Los Angeles Clippers to Pepsi Center Tuesday night. That game will loom large in the standings as the Clippers currently sit just a game behind the Nuggets for a playoff spot.