Rockets hold on, hand Nuggets first home loss

Jalen Green had 26 points, Fred VanVleet scored 25, and the visiting Houston Rockets beat the Denver Nuggets 114-106 on Friday night.

Alperen Sengun had 17 points and 10 rebounds, Dillon Brooks scored 16 and Jabari Smith Jr. pulled down 10 rebounds for Houston, which survived a furious rally to win its first road game of the season.

Nikola Jokic had 23 points and 16 rebounds, Jamal Murray finished with 21 points, Michael Porter Jr. added 20, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 14 and Peyton Watson scored 13 for Denver. The Nuggets lost at home for the first time in 10 games.

The Rockets opened the final period with an 11-4 spurt to lead by 25 but went more than six minutes without scoring and Denver answered with 18 straight points. Jokic made two turnaround jumpers, fed Porter for a 3-pointer, and Jokic made a layup to cut the lead to 103-89 with 5:32 left.

Houston missed nine straight shots and four free throws as the Nuggets continued to chip away. Porter converted a three-point play, Murray made two free throws and Jokic hit a short jumper to make it 103-96.

The Rockets missed all 11 of their shots over the final 8:26 but recovered to close it out at the line.

Houston led by seven in the second quarter until Caldwell-Pope hit a leaning 3-pointer at the second-quarter buzzer to make it 52-48 at halftime.

The Rockets expanded the lead in the early minutes of the third quarter. VanVleet hit a jumper and a 3-pointer and Smith’s tip-in made it 61-52.

It was still a nine-point lead when Brooks picked up two fouls and a technical in 17 seconds and Denver took advantage to get within three, but Houston responded.

Green made three free throws and a jumper, Brooks and Aaron Holiday hit a 3-pointer and Green drained a 16-footer to give the Rockets a 79-67 lead with 3:32 left in the third.

Houston closed the quarter on a 13-7 run to lead 92-74 heading into the fourth.