In his Rockets home debut, Chris Paul scored 23 points and dished out 12 assists in the Rockets 125-95 win over the Denver Nuggets Wednesday night at Toyota Center.
Paul missed the Rockets first seven home games with a bruised left knee and made 8-of-11 shots from the field, 4-of-7 from behind the three-point line as the Rockets start their four-game homestand by improving to 14-4 on the season.
While Denver’s offense struggled much of the night, the Rockets were equally as bad early on. Houston missed its first six shots from the field and didn’t score until Paul’s 10-foot jumper tied the game at two with 8:23 left in the first quarter. From that point, the Rockets missed just one of their final 13 shots in the period in jumping out to a 36-17 lead, and the second quarter just repeated the first, minus the slow start.
Houston made 13 of its first 15 shots to start the second quarter, building the lead up to as many as 37. The Rockets did miss their final three shots before halftime, allowing the Nuggets to pull within 35. James Harden lead all scorers with 19 points, while Paul added 15 and Trevor Ariza chipped in 14.
Despite the slow start, the Rockets shot 68 percent in the first half, but started the second half cold, failing to score until Nene split a pair of free throws 4:01 in the quarter, and in the interim, the Nuggets shaved 12 points off the Rockets, at one point, whittling the lead down to 21, but Houston closed the period on a 20-7 run, and started the fourth quarter by scoring 13 straight points, to take a 47-point lead as Denver did not score in the first 5:25 of the fourth quarter.
Harden finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and nine assists.
Ariza scored a season-high 25 points, hitting on 9-of-12 from the field, 7-of-10 from long distance.
Nene and Luc Mbah a Moute added 13 points for the Rockets who played without Ryan Anderson (ill) and Eric Gordon (right calf tightness)
Will Barton led the Nuggets with 20 points.
The Rockets will be in action again against the New York Knicks Saturday night at Toyota Center.