DEN
HOU

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Harden hits layup with 2.4 seconds left to lift Rockets

HOUSTON (AP) James Harden isn't necessarily known for his speed. That said, he felt extremely fast on his coast-to-coast drive in the fading seconds Monday night.

''I was running so fast,'' Harden said. ''I felt like I was Usain Bolt.''

Harden drove the length of the floor for a layup with 2.4 seconds left to lift the Houston Rockets over the Denver Nuggets 125-124.

Harden had 39 points, 11 assists and was three rebounds shy of his 20th triple-double of the season. Houston outlasted Denver in a duel between the second- and third-highest scoring teams in the NBA.

''The second half just became a shootout at the O.K. Corral - who's going to score more points?'' Nuggets coach Mike Malone said. ''I hate those kind of games because when you're playing against the third seed in the Western Conference on their home floor and you're turning the ball over, you're going to have a hard time keeping pace with them. But we did that and gave ourselves a chance.''

Harden likely saved the game for Houston, too, when he batted down an inbounds pass to Mason Plumlee near the basket following his layup.

''We were trying to get the lob, and I thought it was a good play call,'' Plumlee said. ''We just didn't convert it.''

Will Barton gave Denver a one-point lead on a three-point play with less than a minute left. On the following possession, Harden missed a layup, but he got it back on the other end of the floor when he rebounded Jameer Nelson's air-ball.

Harden took the ball down the court and scored on a finger-roll layup.

In a physical matchup between two teams that lean heavily on their ability to get to the free-throw line, neither the Rockets nor Nuggets appeared happy with the officiating in the game.

Gary Harris scored a career-high 28 points for Denver by shooting 10 for 16 from the floor and making three 3s. Nikola Jokic also gave Houston problems with his size on both ends of the floor. Jokic had 22 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.

Denver led 65-62 at the half as it outrebounded the Rockets 30-13 in the first half and Houston made just 7 of 20 3-pointers. Houston's long-range shots finally began to fall late in the third quarter, and a 3-pointer from Patrick Beverley early in the fourth gave Houston a six-point lead that energized the Toyota Center crowd.

The Rockets finished the game 17 for 38 from 3 (44.7 percent).

Eric Gordon scored 18 points off the bench for Houston, and Beverley, Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson and Clint Capela all also scored in double figures for the Rockets.

The Nuggets are fighting for a playoff spot in the West and entered holding the eighth seed, but they're also battling injuries. Danilo Gallinari (knee) and Wilson Chandler (groin) both participated in shootaround but did not play. Nuggets coach Mike Malone is hopeful they can be ready to play when the team faces the Cavaliers in Denver on Wednesday night.

Forward Darrell Arthur (left knee soreness) did not travel with the team to Houston, and Malone did not have a timetable for his return.

TIP-INS

Nuggets: Denver outrebounded Houston 48-35 in the game but managed only 14 second-chance points to Houston's 10. ... Barton had 24 points, eight assists and seven rebounds off the bench for Denver. ... Denver made 24 of 26 free throws (92.3 percent). ... Houston snapped Denver's three-game road winning streak, a stretch that dated to Feb. 23

Rockets: Houston scored 27 points off Denver's 21 turnovers while only turning the ball over 12 times and allowing 14 points on the other end. ... Gordon tied a career high with his 35th block of the season, set during his rookie year in 2008-09.

UP NEXT

Nuggets: Host Cleveland on Wednesday night.

Rockets: Host New Orleans on Friday night.

Copyright 2017 by Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

Key Players
N. Jokic
15 PF
J. Harden
13 SG
36.5 Min. Per Game 36.5
29.4 Pts. Per Game 29.4
11.4 Ast. Per Game 11.4
8.2 Reb. Per Game 8.2
60.1 Field Goal % 45.5
58.1 Three Point % 43.7
80.8 Free Throw % 85.0
  Bad pass turnover on Nikola Jokic 0:01
  20-second timeout called 0:02
  Full timeout called 0:02
+ 2 James Harden made driving layup 0:02
  Defensive rebound by James Harden 0:08
  Jameer Nelson missed jump shot 0:10
  Defensive rebound by Jameer Nelson 0:31
  James Harden missed driving layup 0:33
+ 1 Will Barton made free throw 0:42
  Shooting foul on Eric Gordon 0:42
+ 2 Will Barton made jump shot, assist by Gary Harris 0:42
Team Stats
Points 124 125
Field Goals 44-86 (51.2%) 45-89 (50.6%)
3-Pointers 12-29 (41.4%) 17-38 (44.7%)
Free Throws 24-26 (92.3%) 18-23 (78.3%)
Total Rebounds 53 40
Offensive 8 6
Defensive 40 29
Team 5 5
Assists 26 27
Steals 7 12
Blocks 3 2
Turnovers 21 12
Fouls 18 22
Technicals 1 0
away team logo
W. Barton SG 5
24 PTS, 7 REB, 8 AST
home team logo
J. Harden SG 13
39 PTS, 7 REB, 11 AST
1234T
away team logo Nuggets 33-37 28373227124
home team logo Rockets 49-2235273231125
Team Stats
away team logoNuggets 33-37 PPG RPG APG
home team logoRockets 49-22 107.7 PPG 42.9 RPG 19.5 APG
Key Players
G. Harris SG 6.0 PPG 0.0 RPG 0.0 APG 66.7 FG%
J. Harden SG 28.5 PPG 5.5 RPG 8.5 APG 41.3 FG%
Top Scorers
G. Harris SG 28 PTS 2 REB 4 AST
J. Harden SG 39 PTS 7 REB 11 AST
51.2 FG% 50.6
41.4 3PT FG% 44.7
92.3 FT% 78.3
Nuggets
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
G. Harris 39 28 2 4 3 0 3 2 10/16 3/6 5/6 1 1 38 -4
N. Jokic 40 22 13 8 0 1 5 3 7/14 0/3 8/8 1 12 47 -9
J. Hernangomez 33 15 5 1 1 0 0 2 6/11 1/5 2/2 1 4 23 +9
J. Nelson 31 5 6 4 1 0 2 2 2/9 1/4 0/0 0 6 18 -8
M. Plumlee 24 4 7 1 1 1 0 1 2/5 0/0 0/0 2 5 15 +1
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
G. Harris 39 28 2 4 3 0 3 2 10/16 3/6 5/6 1 1 38 -4
N. Jokic 40 22 13 8 0 1 5 3 7/14 0/3 8/8 1 12 47 -9
J. Hernangomez 33 15 5 1 1 0 0 2 6/11 1/5 2/2 1 4 23 +9
J. Nelson 31 5 6 4 1 0 2 2 2/9 1/4 0/0 0 6 18 -8
M. Plumlee 24 4 7 1 1 1 0 1 2/5 0/0 0/0 2 5 15 +1
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
W. Barton 30 24 7 8 1 1 1 1 8/13 4/5 4/5 0 7 48 +3
J. Murray 23 13 4 0 0 0 3 3 5/8 1/3 2/2 0 4 14 +5
E. Mudiay 10 8 1 0 0 0 1 2 2/4 2/3 2/2 0 1 8 +5
K. Faried 10 5 3 0 0 0 4 2 2/6 0/0 1/1 3 0 4 -7
W. Chandler - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Arthur - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Gallinari - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
R. Hibbert - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Miller - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Beasley - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 240 124 48 26 7 3 21 18 44/86 12/29 24/26 8 40 215 -5
Rockets
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
J. Harden 40 39 7 11 4 0 6 4 13/29 4/11 9/11 1 6 66 +2
P. Beverley 32 14 6 3 1 0 1 4 5/9 4/5 0/0 1 5 26 0
T. Ariza 41 14 4 3 2 0 0 2 5/11 3/7 1/2 0 4 26 +14
C. N'Dumba-Capela 27 12 9 4 1 1 0 5 6/8 0/0 0/0 2 7 31 +16
R. Anderson 25 10 2 1 0 0 0 2 4/8 2/6 0/0 1 1 14 +3
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
J. Harden 40 39 7 11 4 0 6 4 13/29 4/11 9/11 1 6 66 +2
P. Beverley 32 14 6 3 1 0 1 4 5/9 4/5 0/0 1 5 26 0
T. Ariza 41 14 4 3 2 0 0 2 5/11 3/7 1/2 0 4 26 +14
C. N'Dumba-Capela 27 12 9 4 1 1 0 5 6/8 0/0 0/0 2 7 31 +16
R. Anderson 25 10 2 1 0 0 0 2 4/8 2/6 0/0 1 1 14 +3
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
E. Gordon 32 18 1 3 0 1 3 2 5/9 4/7 4/4 0 1 23 -3
L. Williams 17 7 3 2 0 0 1 1 2/6 0/2 3/4 0 3 13 +2
Nene 21 6 3 0 2 0 1 2 3/6 0/0 0/0 1 2 10 -15
S. Dekker 5 5 0 0 2 0 0 0 2/3 0/0 1/2 0 0 7 -14
B. Brown - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Harrell - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Onuaku - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Williams - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I. Taylor - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
K. Wiltjer - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 240 125 35 27 12 2 12 22 45/89 17/38 18/23 6 29 216 +5