HOUSTON (AP) — Nikola Jokic scored 29 points, Michael Porter Jr added 21 and the Denver Nuggets cruised to a 128-99 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday night.
Jokic dominated in the paint, hitting 10 of 12 field goals and adding 16 rebounds. Jokic fell three assists shy of his 16th triple-double of the season and second in as many games. He played just 27 minutes in the game and not at all in the fourth quarter.
“What makes him the MVP is he hasn’t missed any games, he has this team — and we’ve had some injuries — in the top four of a very deep and talented Western Conference,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “And then you talk about his stats and efficiency, and it’s historical numbers. We’re fortunate to have him and we realise that.”
Porter was 4fourof seven from beyond the arc. Coming off the bench, JaMychal Green scored 13 points, and Paul Millsap had 11 points and 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. Will Barton added 12 points.
“We still made some silly mistakes tonight, but overall, we’ve been playing good basketball the last few games,” Porter said. “We’ve definitely got to up it, especially without Jamal (Murray) because he’s such a big part of the team.”
Denver made just nine of 31 from three but bullied Houston in the paint, outscoring the Rockets 62-52 from close range and outrebounding them 54-35.
Denver led 69-49 at halftime and stretched the lead to 29 points by the end of the game.
“Before we left the locker room, I asked the players, ‘What do you think worries me the most about this game?’” Malone said. “Will Barton immediately said, ‘Us.’ Good teams handle their business, and I thought tonight, we really did that.”
The Nuggets have won 10 of their last 12 games, winning six of those games by double digits.
Houston hit 11 of 35 from three but couldn’t make the defensive stops needed to hang with Denver. The Rockets committed 14 turnovers, while the Nuggets committed just nine.
Denver snapped an eight-game losing streak in Houston.
Kelly Olynyk had 23 points for Houston. Jae’Sean Tate had 21 points, and Christian Wood added 15.
Denver outscored Houston 32-14 in second-chance points.
“They’ve got some big bodies out there,” Olynyk said. “We’ve got to make a more concerted effort, especially in a game like that. We’ve got to square ourselves up and give ourselves an opportunity.”
John Wall had 10 points, two assists and seven turnovers in 28 minutes.
After playing eight games in 13 days, the Nuggets have a relatively lean week ahead, playing just two games in the six days after Friday night.