Clutch City logo

Recap: Game 2 - Rockets vs. Nuggets (L 111-124)

This was a bad game for the Houston Rockets. The final score was 111 - 124 but it wasn't even that close. The Nuggets finished the game with more points, rebounds, assists, and blocks. The Rockets were against shorthanded, they started the game with the same active roster they had in Game 1, still without Eric Gordon, John Wall, and Boogie Cousins. James Harden led the team in scoring with 34 points and added 8 assists. Christian Wood was second with 23 points but only finished with 3 rebounds. Rebounding, or lack thereof, has been a consistent theme in the first 2 games of the season. In this game the Rockets were out-rebounded 38-52. Jae'Sean Tate lead the Rockets in rebounding with 7 boards, meanwhile 2 Nuggets finished with more. Nikola Jokic finished the game 12 rebounds and Michael Porter Jr. finished the game with 9 rebounds. For the Rockets, Wood's offensive game is still promising, his ability to take guys off the dribble is spectacular. For the Nuggets, Jokic is so good, he finished the game with a triple double (19 points, 18 assists, and 12 rebounds) and Jamal Murray is not afraid of taking, and making, big shots.

1st quarter - Rockets -10

The Rockets started the game by fouling Denver in 4 of their first 5 possessions, which put the Rocket in a quick 8 point hole. Once the Rockets settled in, Wood lit up, Harden found him for a nice alley-oop and then hit 3 straight 3s. For the first 4 minutes of the game Wood had all but 1 shot attempts for the Rockets. After a couple of nice baskets from Harden and PJ Tucker the Rockets finished the quarter without scoring for 4 straight minutes, allowing the Nuggets to go on a 14-0 run to close out the quarter. Wood and Harden made up the entire offense for the Rockets in the first quarter, they scored or assisted on all but 1 scoring drives. For the Nuggets, they ran their offense through Jokic, who seemingly got everybody involved.

2nd quarter - Rockets +0

The Rockets started the 2nd quarter like they ended the 1st, without scoring for 2 1/2 minutes. All in, the Rockets didn't score for a little over 7 minutes. When the scoring drought started they were up 4 (26-22) and after 7 minutes the Rockets were down 16 (26-42), a 20 point swing. Once the Rockets finally saw the ball go, which was a 25-foot 3-pointer from Tate, Harden lit up. The next 3 minutes looked like this: Harden drive, Wood drive, Wood dunk (over Jokic), Harden 3 (4 point play), Harden 3. Unfortunately, the combination of Paul Millsap, Jokic, and Murray countered every step of the way. The end of the half saw back-to-back-to-back-to-back plays from Harden and Murray. Harden finished the 2nd quarter with 21 points. For the Rockets, Harden and Wood accounted for 48 of the team's 60 first-half points.

3rd quarter - Rockets -13

The Nuggets started the 2nd half double-teaming Harden, and it worked, Harden scored only 5 points in the quarter. The Rockets lost this quarter because of bad transition defense, bad rebounding, and Millsap making everything. The Rocket's offense this quarter came from the 2nd string - David Nwaba, Daniel House Jr., and Sterling Brown. Nwaba played hard all game, and he was the only Rocket to finish with a positive +/-. By 2:00 left in the 3rd the Rockets were down 21 and the game was over. The Rockets looked especially defeated.

4th quarter - Rockets +10

After not scoring at all in the 3rd quarter, Wood started the 4th with a few nice plays, including a nasty block on Jokic. Apart from Wood, the Rockets played with the same bad energy they ended the 3rd quarter with. The small burst of offense from Wood wasn't enough to start a come-back. Harden left the game with 6 minutes left, Jokic with 5, and both teams cleared their benches with 4 minutes left in the game. Of the Rockets 28 4th quarter points, 15 were in garbage time. The game really wasn't as close as the final score would lead you to believe.

Notes

  • Jokic finished the game with 18 assists, tying a career high.
  • The Rockets finished the game with 39 3-point attempts, 8 more than the Nuggets but 7 less than their 2019 average. It's starting to seem like an offense less depended on the 3 is going to be a trend for the Rockets this year.

Starting lineups

Position Rockets Nuggets
PG James Harden Jamal Murray
SG David Nwaba Gary Harris
SF Daniel House Jr. Michael Porter Jr.
PF PJ Tucker Paul Millsap
C Christian Wood Nikola Jokic