Nuggets lose heartbreaker in Houston as James Harden hits game-winner

Posted March 21, 2017

Following a nail-biting victory in the Mile High the night before, the Houston Rockets sneaked past the Nuggets Monday night at the Toyota Center.

It was also just the last bucket of another excellent night for the Rockets star.

Just like kids in Houston pretend to be Harden when they're shooting around in their backyard, Harden pretends to be Bolt when he's running super fast. Nikola Jokic scored 22 points and had 13 rebounds in the loss; he was two assists away from a triple-double. Houston outlasted Denver in a duel between the second- and third-highest scoring teams in the National Basketball Association.

"This is a tough loss", Plumlee said. "I hate those kind of games because when you're playing against the third seed in the Western Conference on their home floor and you're turning the ball over, you're going to have a hard time keeping pace with them".

Harden likely saved the game for Houston, too, when he batted down an inbounds pass to Mason Plumlee near the basket following his layup.

"If something's better out there, I've never seen it and I've been around". But after Jameer Nelson missed a 3-pointer on the Nuggets' penultimate possession, Harden grabbed the rebound and went coast to coast, uncontested, for the go-ahead layup.

The Nuggets also out-rebounded the Rockets 48-35, and they scored 52 points in the paint to help put the Rockets in a hole, but Houston turned it up when they needed it in the fourth quarter. With Harden and Patrick Beverley leading the way, the Rockets shot 55% from 3-point land during the third and fourth quarters, scoring 32 and 31 points respectively.

Will Barton gave Denver a one-point lead on a three-point play with less than a minute left.

Sixth man Eric Gordon scored 18 points for the Rockets, which saw all five starters score in double figures in its second straight win.

Gary Harris led Denver with a career-high 28 points while Barton added 24 off the bench.

Denver holds just a half-game lead for the eighth and final spot and hosts defending National Basketball Association champion Cleveland on Wednesday.