HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – Terrance Jones and Donatas Moniejunas may have given Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey a little more assurance that it will be ok to trade disgruntled center Omer Asik. The second-year front court duo combined for 26 points and 15 rebounds as the Rockets knocked off the Denver Nuggets 122-111 Saturday night at Toyota Center.
Asik was not dressed or in the building for the Rockets. Saturday was the first game at Toyota Center since Asik reportedly requested a trade through his agent. The Rockets scored 62 points in the paint and the entire front court combined for 72 points and 32 rebounds as if to send a message that they can win without him.
The Rockets never trailed in the game as they built a double digit lead in the first thanks to the strong play of Chandler Parsons. Parsons, who finished with 20 points on the night, drew plenty of contact in the opening quarter on his makes including getting hacked on a corner three in the right corner with 4:34 remaining in the 1st. The four-point play gave the Rockets a 28-12 lead.
Parsons attributed the victory to the strong start and being able to hold a lead.
“Last couple games they’ve been up seven, cut it three and then it is a tie game,” Parsons said. “Instead of letting them do that we kept extending the lead and got some big stops, kept going in transition and didn’t slow down.”
The second quarter was a bit of a coming out part for Montiejunas who, along with Lin paced the Rockets offensively with Dwight Howard sitting for much of the quarter with three fouls. Montiejunas tallied 11 points overall in the first half including nine in the second frame as the Rockets built a 23-point lead.
Montiejunas, who had played a total of nine minutes on the season, gave the Rockets another lift off the bench.
“He gave us a big lift, scoring in the post and he moved the ball pretty well,” Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said.
Denver made it interesting with a 13-3 run to start the third quarter closing the gap to seven points. The Rockets would not let the Nuggets any closer as they responded with a 14-2 run to take a 19 point lead. Jones was the 3rd quarter star with Howard on the bench scoring six points, grabbing five boards and blocking two shots in the period. Jones tied his career bests in points and rebounds with 14 and 12 respectively.
“When we get those big leads we can’t be having them hit shots and can’t stop playing defense until the horn goes off,” Parsons said. “We still have things to work on but this was definitely a step in the right direction.”
The Nuggets made an attempt at the “Hack-A-Howard” strategy and it backfired for them in the fourth quarter. Howard made 14 of his 20 free throw attempts in the final period. Howard netted seven consecutive foul shots to build the Rockets lead to 16 with 3:22 remaining in the game prompting the Nuggets to pull away from the tactic. This led to a sarcastic ovation from the Toyota Center crowd for the Nuggets.
“Theres nothing I can do about it besides make them,” Howard said. “The more free throws I make, the less teams will do the Hack-A-Howard.”
Howard finished with 25 points and seven boards in the win.
Denver’s Ty Lawson set a new career high with 17 assists and led the Nuggets with 28 points in the loss.
The Rockets have two days off before hosting the Celtics on Tuesday night at Toyota Center.
Follow Alex Del Barrio on Twitter: @ADBSportsguy
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