Nuggets 111, Rockets 101
Drawing on their depth and leaning once again on Carmelo
Anthony’s offense, the Denver Nuggets withstood the loss of
Chauncey Billups to a groin injury for a 111-101 victory over the
Houston Rockets on Wednesday night.
They may soon face more tests without their star point
Anthony scored 38 points, his fifth straight 30-plus point
performance, and the Nuggets were able to win despite missing
Billups for most of the second half.
The team said Billups, who had 15 points before leaving with 9
minutes left in the third quarter, would undergo a precautionary
MRI and officially was listed as day to day.
Nuggets Coach George Karl said he anticipated being without
Billups for at least a couple of games. The Nuggets play at New
Orleans on Friday and if Billups can’t go, either rookie Ty Lawson
or veteran Anthony Carter would likely start in his place.
Both Lawson (6 points and 6 assists) and Carter (5 points)
delivered key baskets and helped facilitate the Nuggets’ offense
after Billups’ exit. So did reserve J.R. Smith, who added 21 points
for the Nuggets, winners of five straight at home since their only
loss of the season at the Pepsi Center, 106-100 to Minnesota on
“Everybody tonight did their part,” Anthony said. “A.C.
(Carter) came in and played well and he seems to always do that
when he is called.”
Added Kenyon Martin: “A.C.’s a professional. He stays ready.
That’s what it’s about. J.R.’s capable of handing the ball, ‘Melo
handles the ball a lot.”
And so does Lawson, whose speed brings an added dimension to the
“Hopefully, Chauncey comes back soon but I’ve got to be
ready,” Lawson said.
Aaron Brooks scored 23 points for Houston, which lost the second
game of a back-to-back set for the first time this season. The
Rockets were 5-0 previously in the second game of back-to-backs,
including completing their first sweep of a two-game set earlier
“When we made a run, they made a run right back at us,” said
Trevor Ariza, who had 18 points for the Rockets. “Anytime they
needed a stop or they needed to get it going, they did and we
There was no letup on their part even after Billups left, Ariza
“J.R. definitely got it going, ‘Melo got it going again,”
Ariza said. “He did what he’s been doing every night, doing a lot
of scoring and making plays for his team, and we couldn’t do
anything about it today.”
Houston’s Tracy McGrady played sparingly in his second game
since returning from microfracture surgery on his left knee,
missing the only shot he took in 7 minutes of play.
“Being hurt last season, having the microfracture surgery, the
progress I had to make to get to this point, it’s been a long
road,” said McGrady, who tested himself by guarding Anthony in the
second quarter. “The biggest question is, `Can I come out and get
up and down the court without having any pain in my knee?’ I felt
fine, wasn’t favoring it. My knee is holding up pretty fine.”
Down seven at halftime, Houston tied it at 71 when Ariza
converted a three-point play. But consecutive 3-pointers by Anthony
and Smith helped Denver regain command, and the Nuggets took an
85-78 lead into the fourth quarter.
From there, Denver scored 10 of the first 14 points in the
fourth quarter, including two baskets by Anthony to open a 95-82
lead with 6:52 remaining. Anthony, the NBA’s leading scorer, made
19 of 20 free throws, including six straight in the closing moments
to help hold off the Rockets.
After a tip-in by Ariza pulled the Rockets within 49-46, the
Nuggets scored nine of the next 13 points, culminating with a
reverse layup by Lawson to put Denver up 58-51 at halftime.
Houston started out strong, taking a 19-11 lead on Ariza’s
22-foot jumper with 4:23 left in the first period. Denver got a
three-point play from Anthony to start an 11-0 run, putting the
Nuggets back in front.
NOTES: Houston coach Rick Adelman said before the game McGrady
would be brought along gradually. “He’s been out a whole year.
We’re not going to push his minutes right now,” Adelman said. …
Anthony has scored 30 or more points in 17 games this season, four
more than he had last season. … Denver Broncos WR Brandon
Marshall watched the game from a courtside seat. … The Nuggets
snapped a three-game losing streak to Houston and improved their
home record to 12-1.