NBA: Jokic triple-double leads Nuggets past short-handed Rockets

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at Jan 27 2020 10:12 AM

Houston Rockets center Clint Capela (15) and Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) position for a rebound during the second quarter at Toyota Center. File photo. Erik Williams, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters.

Nikola Jokic had 24 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, Jerami Grant scored a season-high 25 points and the host Denver Nuggets beat the Houston Rockets, 117-110, on a sad day for the NBA on Sunday.

The game was played in the wake of the news of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant dying in a helicopter crash earlier in the day.

The news of Bryant's death broke about an hour before tip-off at 1:30 p.m. local time and the tragedy was felt throughout the afternoon. The Nuggets held a moment of silence before the game and when it ended, the capacity crowd chanted "Kobe! Kobe!" Houston center Tyson Chandler and guard Austin Rivers were emotional on the bench at the start of the game.

Michael Porter Jr. and Monte Morris scored 17 points each, Will Barton had 11 and Malik Beasley 10 for Denver.

The Rockets played without NBA leading scorer James Harden due to a left thigh contusion that head coach Mike D'Antoni said might keep him out of Monday's game at Utah.

Russell Westbrook had a game-high 32 points, Eric Gordon added 19, Ben McLemore scored 15, Rivers had 13 and Danuel House Jr. finished with 11.

Denver continued to play without three of its top rotation players -- Jamal Murray (left ankle sprain), Paul Millsap (left knee contusion) and Mason Plumlee (right foot injury).

With Denver leading 80-75 midway through the third, Houston went on a 14-5 run to go in front but the Nuggets scored the last five points to take a 90-89 lead into the fourth.

The Rockets went up 93-92 but Denver responded with some defense and long-range shooting. Beasley had a steal, Grant blocked Westbrook's drive and Morris hit two 3-pointers to put the Nuggets back in front, 100-93, with 8:38 left.

Porter stretched the lead to eight with one of his four 3-pointers but Houston chipped away to get within three with 3:24 left. Then Barton banked a shot in, Gordon missed a 3-pointer and Grant hit two free throws to make it 113-106 and put the game away.

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