Rockets-Nuggets Preview

Rockets-Nuggets Preview
January 29, 2013, 3:43 pm
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Scoring at a high rate is nothing new for the Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets, but their production during their respective winning streaks has jumped even higher.

Both teams have also improved on the defensive end.

Denver goes for a fifth straight victory overall and sixth in a row in this series Wednesday night when they host the Rockets, who will try to remain undefeated since last week's home loss to the Nuggets.

Fourth in the NBA with 103.5 points per game - Houston ranks second with 104.9 - Denver is averaging 112.3 since its last defeat.

The Nuggets (28-18) have also forced an average of 21.2 turnovers during their four-game run, while holding their last three opponents to 96.3 points per game after allowing at least 105 in seven of the previous eight contests.

That strong defensive stretch started last Wednesday when Denver forced 23 turnovers in a 105-95 win at Houston (25-22).

Nuggets guard Andre Iguodala came up big on both ends Monday, making a defensive stop in the closing seconds then hitting a winning free throw with 0.7 seconds left in a 102-101 victory over Indiana.

Denver improved to 18-3 at home and 11-3 in January.

"We're having a good month," point guard Ty Lawson told the Nuggets' official website. "I feel like if we would have lost this game (after leading by 14 in the fourth quarter), we would have taken it hard. I'm glad we got the win - momentum is going to be good for us."

The Rockets also have momentum as they come to Denver. Since losing its fourth straight at home to the Nuggets last week, Houston has won three in a row and averaged 122.0 points in the last two.

It has a 73-18 edge in fast-break points during those three games after outscoring Utah 26-2 in that category in a 125-80 road victory Monday.

"That's how we play,'' guard James Harden said. "If you watch Rockets basketball, you know we get out in transition and we get some stops. We just try to do a good job of that for 48 minutes.''

The Rockets also committed a season-low six turnovers - 10.4 less that their league-worst average.

That performance was Houston's third straight strong effort at the defensive end. The Rockets are giving up 102.4 points a contest on the season, but they've allowed 89.3 along with 41.1 percent shooting in this stretch.

Iguodala and the Nuggets have done a nice job on Harden, limiting the first-time All-Star to 38 total points in two meetings this season. Harden, who averages 26.0, had 15 and shot 5 of 15 in a 93-87 loss to Denver on Nov. 7.

Danilo Gallinari had 27 points Monday as Denver won its seventh straight game in which he's led the team in scoring.

The Nuggets might need another strong game from Gallinari, as well as the rest of their frontcourt, if JaVale McGee and Wilson Chandler miss a second straight contest. McGee had 14 points last Wednesday while Chandler scored a season-best 20.

Denver won 101-86 on April 15 to avoid a third consecutive home loss to Houston. The Nuggets haven't won six straight in this series since taking the first seven matchups Jan. 7, 1977-Oct. 29, 1978.