Denver buried by barrage of 3-pointers
These used to be “schedule losses.”
The road-weary opponent rolls into town in the wee hours of the morning, bleary-eyed and wanting rest. The Nuggets would compound their despair by running them off the Pepsi Center court a few hours later. The schedule helped them win. They were good at that. That was then. Now, the Nuggets can’t even beat teams who should be exhausted. Four teams this season have come into the Pepsi Center on the second of a back-to-back. Three of the four won, including the Rockets, who drubbed the Nuggets 128-110 Friday night.
The Rockets raised the degree of difficulty by going double overtime the night before in a victory at Golden State, and didn’t get to their hotel in Denver until after 5 a.m. Friday.
Why the Nuggets lost was as painful as the loss itself.
The Nuggets knew a couple of things about the Rockets coming into the game. First, and foremost, this team loves — not likes — to shoot 3-pointers. They jack them up at every turn, and with summer additions such as Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon on the roster, the Rockets heat up from the arc regularly, and when they do, probably only Golden
FState can match them shot for shot.
Houston got to work fast on the 3-point front, nailing their first three in the first 2:22 of the game. At the end of the first, they’d knocked in seven of 14 from beyond the arc. At halftime, Houston had nine treys. At the end of the third, 14. The Rockets were merciless sharpshooters from deep, finishing 17-of-37 from the 3-point line.
It was all the firepower they needed. Offensively, the Nuggets were generally fine. But defensively they were awful. When the Nuggets had stretches of good 3-point defense, the Rockets simply beat them to the bucket. That horrifying cycle had no end. The Rockets built an early double-digit lead, which the Nuggets chopped to five in the second quarter. But that was as close as they’d get.
The Rockets put the game out of reach in the third quarter and pushed the lead to 20 in the fourth quarter. It was not the way the Nuggets wanted to head out, now on the road for six consecutive games starting in Utah on Saturday night.
Wilson Chandler was the Nuggets’ most consistent offensive player and finished with a gamehigh 24 points. But this game wasn’t about that end of the court. The Rockets put seven players in double figures, shot 50.6 percent from the field and scored the most points they had in any quarter this season with 42 in the first. Conversely, it was the most the Nuggets had allowed in any quarter this season. The Rockets’ 73 halftime points were the most they’d scored in a first half on the road since April 8, 1990.
It was that kind of game.
Rockets guard Eric Gordon (10) passes to forward Montrezl Harrell as Denver’s Darrell Arthur and Emmanuel Mudiay defend in the first half Friday night. David Zalubowski, The Associated Press