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Rockets embarrass Nuggets as Malone takes blame for loss

Harrison Wind Avatar
December 3, 2016

 

DENVER — After an exhilarating 132-127 double-overtime win over the Golden State Warriors Thursday night and arriving in Denver at 5 o’clock AM Friday morning, the Houston Rockets came into tonight’s matchup against the Denver Nuggets with tired legs and their eyes on a two-game homestand.

Yet, when watching tonight’s 128-110 Rockets victory over a helpless Nuggets team, you would never have guessed James Harden, Trevor Ariza, and Ryan Anderson played 46, 43 and 45 minutes respectively just 24 hours ago.

“It’s unacceptable to have a team come in here and outwork us,” a frustrated Michael Malone said postgame. “To give up 42 points in the first quarter to a team that’s playing they got to the hotel at 5 o’clock in the morning. I apologize to our fans, they deserve better than that. The effort that we’ve given I’ve got to do a much better job of getting these guys ready to play.”

Houston jumped on Denver early, putting up 42 points to the Nuggets’ 33 after the first quarter and coasted to their seventh win in their last nine games. In that first quarter, Houston shot 7-14 from three, setting the tone for the next 36 minutes where they’d  go on to shoot 17-37 (45.9 percent) from distance.

It was a total team effort from the Rockets tonight. Harden scored 20 points, Anderson added 18, and Gordon chipped in 18 off the bench.

“We did not guard their shooters,” Malone said. “We guarded Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson, and Eric Gordon like they were non-shooters, and again, that starts with me.”

The effort, execution, and focus was nowhere to be found from the Nuggets tonight, which was somewhat surprising coming off arguably their worst loss of the season to Miami Wednesday. Tonight’s loss likely marks a new low this season for Denver.

“That’s a lot of bad basketball, and it starts with me,” Malone said

The turnover troubles that plagued Denver early in the season were back again. In total, the Nuggets turned the ball over 16 times, highlighted by four from Jusuf Nurkic who finished with ten points on 5-9 shooting and seven rebounds in 20 minutes.

“It’s just not valuing the ball, trying to play in tight spaces, not trusting each other, not making the simple play,” Malone cited as reasons for Denver’s turnovers. “All the same old things we’ve talked about all season.”

For Denver, Wilson Chandler was once again the lone bright spot totaling 24 points on 10-18 shooting in 29 minutes. Will Barton in his return to the starting lineup from a left ankle injury scored 17 points on 7-16 shooting, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out five assists.

Danilo Gallinari, who’s yet to find a rhythm this season scored 16 points on 6-11 shooting.

“We’re a bad team right now and I have to start doing a much better job,” Malones said. “Because the direction we’re headed right now is in a bad, bad place.”

WHERE/WHEN

Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado | December 2, 2016 | Regular Season Game No. 19

NUGGETS STAR OF THE GAME

Chandler was the only Nuggets player who played with the intensity focus and execution required tonight. As he’s done for practically every game this season, Chandler was a bright spot once again, finishing with 24 points on 10-18 shooting to go with four rebounds in 29 minutes.

BY THE NUMBERS

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-10-57-10-pm screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-10-57-04-pm

PLAYS OF THE GAME

Faried on the break

Barton back in the starting lineup

Faried is an offensive rebounding machine

Chandler tries to save the Nuggets…again

Gallinari tries to get going

WHAT’S NEXT

Denver heads out on a six-game mostly Eastern Conference road trip. They’ll visit Utah, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Washington, Orlando and Dallas over the next ten days.

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