HOU
DEN

No Text

Jokic, Nuggets bottle up Harden and Rockets in 105-95 win

DENVER (AP) Rule No. 1 in defending James Harden: Throw different looks at him.

Rule No. 2: See above.

At least, that was Denver's highly effective blueprint.

Nikola Jokic had 27 points and 12 rebounds, Denver played smothering defense on Harden and the Nuggets beat Houston 105-95 on Wednesday night to snap the Rockets' eight-game winning streak.

''You have to have rules against James Harden,'' Denver coach Michael Malone explained. ''You can't play him with your standard defense. Great player defense is required for great players.''

So, the Nuggets tried a little bit of everything to contain Harden, even rolling the 7-foot Jokic out high along with another defender.

The variety of schemes did the trick - as much as it can against Harden. Houston's star playmaker finished with 27 points, snapping his string of eight consecutive games with 36 or more. He was 8 of 16 from the floor as the Rockets were held under 100 points for the first time this season. They were averaging an NBA-best 119.5 per game.

''We were locked in,'' said Jokic, whose team is 7-0 this season when keeping an opponent below 100 points.

Still, Jokic found it funny that his team was being lauded for ''stopping'' Harden.

''That's crazy when a guy scores 27 and it's bad,'' Jokic said. ''We know he's going to score. He's going to be aggressive. Just make it harder and try to be there. ... Just to give them different looks.''

It worked - this time.

''They just double-teamed every possession,'' Harden said. ''They got lucky. They got away with one. We didn't execute how we needed to.''

The Rockets struggled from 3-point range, hitting 12 of 38. They did make at least 10 for a 71st straight game dating to last season.

Russell Westbrook finished with 25 points on 8-of-22 shooting and Clint Capela grabbed 21 rebounds.

''We had open shots,'' Westbrook said. ''We just didn't make them.''

Will Barton scored 15 points, while Torrey Craig and Juancho Hernangomez provided boosts off the bench as Denver's reserves outscored the Rockets' backups by a 32-21 margin.

One of the key sequences came in the third quarter, when Paul Millsap blocked Harden's shot and Barton turned it into a dunk on the other end. That energized the Pepsi Center crowd and sent the Nuggets on a pivotal run.

It's not easy making things difficult for Harden, who's seen just about every defensive scheme imaginable.

''He's one of those guys that when you're watching film it's like watching a horror movie,'' Malone said. ''He's that talented.''

TIP-INS

Rockets: F Danuel House Jr. hurt his shoulder after running through a screen set by Jokic in the third quarter. House will be evaluated Thursday. ... G Ben McLemore was given a flagrant foul for a push in the fourth.

Nuggets: Gary Harris and Jamal Murray each scored 10 points.

CRAIG'S D

Craig played a big role with three blocked shots in helping to limit Westbrook's damage. Craig knew he was getting under his opponent's skin when Westbrook lobbied to officials for foul calls.

''That's kind of a sign that I'm getting on his nerves a little bit,'' said Craig, who also turned in an impressive dunk.

SPURTS

The first quarter was filled with plenty of spurts - a 7-0 run by Denver, soon followed by a 13-0 run for Houston and then a 15-0 run by the Nuggets.

ELITE CATEGORY

Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni sees Jokic in the same sort of category as Harden or Westbrook in being difficult to contain.

''He's going to do what he does. Same as James,'' D'Antoni said. ''I don't care what they do to James - if he has a good game, it's because of James. If he has a bad game, it's because of James. Same with Russell. There are a few players that are that special.''

NO FOULS

Trying not to foul Harden is easier said than done. He drew a foul on a 3-pointer the Nuggets challenged, believing he kicked out his left leg, but the call on the floor stood. Harden was 7 of 10 from the free throw line.

''He's a master at drawing the foul,'' Malone said. ''They changed NBA rules because of James Harden.''

UP NEXT

Rockets: In Los Angeles to play the Clippers on Friday.

Nuggets: Host the Boston Celtics on Friday in the second game of a four-game homestand.

---

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Copyright 2019 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

1st Quarter

Time Team Play Score
12:00   Jumpball  
11:49 +3 Jamal Murray made 3-pt. jump shot 0-3
11:32   P.J. Tucker missed 3-pt. jump shot  
11:29   Defensive rebound by Nikola Jokic  
11:16   Nikola Jokic missed jump shot  
11:12   Offensive rebound by Will Barton  
11:12 +2 Will Barton made dunk 0-5
10:54   Bad pass turnover on James Harden, stolen by Jamal Murray  
10:45 +2 Will Barton made driving dunk 0-7
10:33   Clint Capela missed hook shot  
10:33   DEN team rebound  
10:20   Jamal Murray missed 3-pt. jump shot  
10:16   Defensive rebound by Russell Westbrook  
10:09 +2 Clint Capela made layup, assist by Russell Westbrook 2-7
9:44 +2 Nikola Jokic made hook shot 2-9
9:31 +2 Clint Capela made dunk, assist by James Harden 4-9
9:17   Lost ball turnover on Nikola Jokic, stolen by James Harden  
9:13 +2 James Harden made finger-roll layup 6-9
8:58   Offensive foul on Gary Harris  
8:58   Turnover on Gary Harris  
8:48 +2 Russell Westbrook made finger-roll layup 8-9
8:37   Bad pass turnover on Jamal Murray, stolen by James Harden  
8:32 +2 Russell Westbrook made finger-roll layup, assist by James Harden 10-9
8:24   Gary Harris missed layup  
8:21   Defensive rebound by Clint Capela  
8:06 +2 James Harden made floating jump shot 12-9
7:54   Will Barton missed 3-pt. jump shot  
7:50   Defensive rebound by James Harden  
7:44 +3 James Harden made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Danuel House Jr. 15-9
7:41   Full timeout called  
7:20   Nikola Jokic missed jump shot  
7:17   Defensive rebound by Clint Capela  
7:11   Personal foul on Will Barton  
7:06   Bad pass turnover on Danuel House Jr., stolen by Will Barton  
7:01 +2 Gary Harris made dunk, assist by Nikola Jokic 15-11
6:35   P.J. Tucker missed hook shot  
6:35   HOU team rebound  
6:35   24-second shot clock violation turnover  
6:15   Personal foul on James Harden  
6:02   Jamal Murray missed jump shot  
5:59   Offensive rebound by Nikola Jokic  
5:56 +2 Nikola Jokic made dunk 15-13
5:46   James Harden missed floating jump shot  
5:46   Offensive rebound by Clint Capela  
5:46   HOU team rebound  
5:31   Defensive rebound by Will Barton  
5:34   P.J. Tucker missed 3-pt. jump shot  
5:31   Defensive rebound by Will Barton  
5:26 +2 Will Barton made floating jump shot 15-15
5:07   Out of bounds turnover on P.J. Tucker  
4:51 +2 Paul Millsap made turnaround jump shot, assist by Jamal Murray 15-17
4:27   James Harden missed floating jump shot  
4:25   Offensive rebound by Tyson Chandler  
4:23   Ben McLemore missed 3-pt. jump shot  
4:19   Defensive rebound by Will Barton  
4:09 +2 Nikola Jokic made floating jump shot, assist by Will Barton 15-19
3:57   Lost ball turnover on James Harden, stolen by Paul Millsap  
3:51 +3 Gary Harris made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jamal Murray 15-22
3:27   Bad pass turnover on Ben McLemore, stolen by Jamal Murray  
3:21   Bad pass turnover on Jamal Murray, stolen by James Harden  
3:18   Personal foul on Nikola Jokic  
3:13   Thabo Sefolosha missed 3-pt. jump shot  
3:10   Defensive rebound by Monte Morris  
2:51   Nikola Jokic missed 3-pt. jump shot  
2:48   Defensive rebound by Tyson Chandler  
2:33   Traveling violation turnover on Austin Rivers  
2:16 +2 Gary Harris made finger-roll layup, assist by Mason Plumlee 15-24
2:04 +2 Russell Westbrook made jump shot 17-24
1:46   Violation  
1:35   Monte Morris missed jump shot  
1:32   Defensive rebound by Clint Capela  
1:24   Russell Westbrook missed 3-pt. jump shot  
1:18   Offensive rebound by Clint Capela  
1:18   Shooting foul on Mason Plumlee  
1:18 +1 Russell Westbrook made 1st of 2 free throws 18-24
1:18   Russell Westbrook missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
1:16   Defensive rebound by Juancho Hernangomez  
1:06   Shooting foul on Thabo Sefolosha  
1:06   Monte Morris missed 1st of 2 free throws  
1:06   DEN team rebound  
1:06 +1 Monte Morris made 2nd of 2 free throws 18-25
0:57 +2 Russell Westbrook made jump shot 20-25
0:43 +2 Jerami Grant made finger-roll layup, assist by Monte Morris 20-27
0:43   Shooting foul on Clint Capela  
0:43   Jerami Grant missed free throw  
0:41   Defensive rebound by Thabo Sefolosha  
0:37   Ben McLemore missed 3-pt. jump shot  
0:31   Defensive rebound by Jerami Grant  
0:17   Monte Morris missed driving layup, blocked by Ben McLemore  
0:14   Defensive rebound by Austin Rivers  
0:01 +2 Clint Capela made reverse layup, assist by Russell Westbrook 22-27
0:00   End of period  

2nd Quarter

Time Team Play Score
11:49   Russell Westbrook missed finger-roll layup, blocked by Torrey Craig  
11:46   Defensive rebound by Jerami Grant  
11:44   Jerami Grant missed floating jump shot  
11:40   Defensive rebound by Clint Capela  
11:28   Russell Westbrook missed 3-pt. jump shot  
11:25   Defensive rebound by Juancho Hernangomez  
11:12   Jerami Grant missed turnaround jump shot  
11:08   Defensive rebound by Clint Capela  
10:56 +3 Danuel House Jr. made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Russell Westbrook 25-27
10:41 +2 Torrey Craig made layup, assist by Mason Plumlee 25-29
10:30 +2 Austin Rivers made floating jump shot 27-29
10:06   Mason Plumlee missed hook shot  
10:05   HOU team rebound  
9:53   Clint Capela missed reverse layup  
9:51   Offensive rebound by Clint Capela  
9:50   Danuel House Jr. missed 3-pt. jump shot  
9:50   HOU team rebound  
9:38   Russell Westbrook missed layup, blocked by Torrey Craig  
9:35   Defensive rebound by Juancho Hernangomez  
9:31   Torrey Craig missed 3-pt. jump shot  
9:26   Defensive rebound by Russell Westbrook  
9:23   Shooting foul on Torrey Craig  
9:23 +1 Russell Westbrook made 1st of 2 free throws 28-29
9:23   Russell Westbrook missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
9:20   Defensive rebound by Jerami Grant  
9:06   Monte Morris missed 3-pt. jump shot  
9:00   Offensive rebound by Juancho Hernangomez  
9:00 +2 Juancho Hernangomez made dunk 28-31
8:50   Austin Rivers missed floating jump shot  
8:47   Defensive rebound by Monte Morris  
8:35 +2 Mason Plumlee made hook shot 28-33
8:25   Russell Westbrook missed 3-pt. jump shot  
8:22   Defensive rebound by Jerami Grant  
8:16   Personal foul on Danuel House Jr.  
8:10   Juancho Hernangomez missed layup  
8:08   Offensive rebound by Monte Morris  
8:00   Juancho Hernangomez missed 3-pt. jump shot  
7:57   Offensive rebound by Mason Plumlee  
7:53   Monte Morris missed finger-roll layup  
7:52   Defensive rebound by Clint Capela  
7:48   Offensive foul on Clint Capela  
7:48   Turnover on Clint Capela  
7:32 +2 Jerami Grant made jump shot 28-35
7:12   Shooting foul on Mason Plumlee  
7:12 +1 Danuel House Jr. made 1st of 2 free throws 29-35
7:12 +1 Danuel House Jr. made 2nd of 2 free throws 30-35
6:57   Jamal Murray missed floating jump shot  
6:55   Defensive rebound by Clint Capela  
6:50   Offensive foul on James Harden  
6:50   Turnover on James Harden  
6:33 +3 Will Barton made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Gary Harris 30-38
6:13 +2 James Harden made finger-roll layup 32-38
6:01   Personal foul on Austin Rivers  
5:58   Shooting foul on P.J. Tucker  
5:58 +1 Paul Millsap made 1st of 2 free throws 32-39
5:58 +1 Paul Millsap made 2nd of 2 free throws 32-40
5:49   James Harden missed 3-pt. jump shot  
5:46   Offensive rebound by Tyson Chandler  
5:45   Shooting foul on Will Barton  
5:45 +1 James Harden made 1st of 2 free throws 33-40
5:45   James Harden missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
5:43   Defensive rebound by Paul Millsap  
5:30   Paul Millsap missed jump shot  
5:26   Defensive rebound by Danuel House Jr.  
5:16 +2 Tyson Chandler made dunk, assist by Danuel House Jr. 35-40
5:01 +3 Nikola Jokic made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jamal Murray 35-43
4:48   Violation  
4:34   James Harden missed 3-pt. jump shot  
4:34   Offensive rebound by Danuel House Jr.  
4:26 +2 James Harden made floating jump shot, assist by Danuel House Jr. 37-43
4:01 +2 Paul Millsap made driving layup 37-45
3:53   Russell Westbrook missed jump shot  
3:50   Defensive rebound by Will Barton  
3:43   Gary Harris missed layup, blocked by Tyson Chandler  
3:41   Offensive rebound by Will Barton  
3:36 +2 Nikola Jokic made floating jump shot, assist by Will Barton 37-47
3:29   Shooting foul on Paul Millsap  
3:29 +1 James Harden made 1st of 3 free throws 38-47
3:29 +1 James Harden made 2nd of 3 free throws 39-47
3:29 +1 James Harden made 3rd of 3 free throws 40-47
3:17 +2 Nikola Jokic made hook shot, assist by Jamal Murray 40-49
2:55   Russell Westbrook missed jump shot  
2:52   Offensive rebound by Clint Capela  
2:43 +2 Clint Capela made layup, assist by James Harden 42-49
2:32   Jamal Murray missed 3-pt. jump shot  
2:29   Offensive rebound by Nikola Jokic  
2:27 +2 Nikola Jokic made dunk 42-51
2:21 +2 Clint Capela made dunk, assist by James Harden 44-51
1:57   Bad pass turnover on Nikola Jokic, stolen by Clint Capela  
1:56   Personal foul on Jamal Murray  
1:56 +1 Russell Westbrook made 1st of 2 free throws 45-51
1:56 +1 Russell Westbrook made 2nd of 2 free throws 46-51
1:36   Jamal Murray missed fade-away jump shot  
1:33   Defensive rebound by Clint Capela  
1:21   Russell Westbrook missed alley-oop shot  
1:19   Defensive rebound by Will Barton  
1:13 +3 Jamal Murray made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Paul Millsap 46-54
1:04   Shooting foul on Jamal Murray  
1:04 +1 Russell Westbrook made 1st of 2 free throws 47-54
1:04 +1 Russell Westbrook made 2nd of 2 free throws 48-54
0:57   Personal foul on Russell Westbrook  
0:48   Bad pass turnover on Nikola Jokic, stolen by P.J. Tucker  
0:37   Lost ball turnover on Russell Westbrook, stolen by Jamal Murray  
0:31   Jamal Murray missed finger-roll layup  
0:29   Defensive rebound by P.J. Tucker  
0:25 +3 James Harden made 3-pt. jump shot 51-54
0:01   Jamal Murray missed fade-away jump shot  
0:01   Defensive rebound by James Harden  
0:00   End of period  

3rd Quarter

Time Team Play Score
11:45   Danuel House Jr. missed 3-pt. jump shot  
11:40   Defensive rebound by Paul Millsap  
11:35 +3 Gary Harris made 3-pt. jump shot 51-57
11:19   Danuel House Jr. missed 3-pt. jump shot  
11:16   Defensive rebound by Nikola Jokic  
11:07   Will Barton missed 3-pt. jump shot  
11:03   Defensive rebound by Clint Capela  
10:51 +2 P.J. Tucker made floating jump shot, assist by James Harden 53-57
10:34 +2 Will Barton made finger-roll layup, assist by Nikola Jokic 53-59
10:20 +2 Russell Westbrook made driving layup 55-59
10:20   Shooting foul on Jamal Murray  
10:20 +1 Russell Westbrook made free throw 56-59
10:07   Offensive foul on Nikola Jokic  
10:07   Turnover on Nikola Jokic  
9:50   Lost ball turnover on James Harden, stolen by Paul Millsap  
9:45 +2 Will Barton made finger-roll layup, assist by Paul Millsap 56-61
9:32 +3 Russell Westbrook made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Ben McLemore 59-61
9:09   Nikola Jokic missed hook shot  
9:08   Defensive rebound by Clint Capela  
9:04   Personal foul on Paul Millsap  
8:50   Bad pass turnover on Clint Capela, stolen by Jamal Murray  
8:30   Paul Millsap missed 3-pt. jump shot  
8:27   Defensive rebound by Clint Capela  
8:12   Russell Westbrook missed 3-pt. jump shot  
8:11   HOU team rebound  
8:09   Ben McLemore missed 3-pt. jump shot  
8:05   Defensive rebound by Nikola Jokic  
7:54 +2 Jamal Murray made finger-roll layup, assist by Nikola Jokic 59-63
7:31   Ben McLemore missed hook shot  
7:28   Defensive rebound by Nikola Jokic  
7:28   Personal foul on P.J. Tucker  
7:19 +2 Nikola Jokic made floating jump shot, assist by Jamal Murray 59-65
6:55   Russell Westbrook missed jump shot  
6:54   Defensive rebound by Paul Millsap  
6:45   Will Barton missed 3-pt. jump shot  
6:43   Defensive rebound by James Harden  
6:37   James Harden missed finger-roll layup, blocked by Paul Millsap  
6:34   Defensive rebound by Gary Harris  
6:31 +2 Will Barton made dunk, assist by Gary Harris 59-67
6:13   Lost ball turnover on Tyson Chandler, stolen by Paul Millsap  
5:59   Gary Harris missed floating jump shot  
5:56   Offensive rebound by Nikola Jokic  
5:55   Shooting foul on P.J. Tucker  
5:55 +1 Paul Millsap made 1st of 2 free throws 59-68
5:55   Paul Millsap missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
5:53   Defensive rebound by James Harden  
5:48 +3 James Harden made 3-pt. jump shot 62-68
5:28 +2 Paul Millsap made floating jump shot, assist by Jamal Murray 62-70
5:11   Offensive foul on Tyson Chandler  
5:11   Turnover on Tyson Chandler  
4:56 +2 Jamal Murray made finger-roll layup, assist by Will Barton 62-72
4:34   Austin Rivers missed 3-pt. jump shot  
4:32   Defensive rebound by Gary Harris  
4:26 +3 Nikola Jokic made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Gary Harris 62-75
3:58   Bad pass turnover on Chris Clemons, stolen by Jamal Murray  
3:58   Personal foul on Chris Clemons  
3:33   Jumpball  
3:31   Jamal Murray missed 3-pt. fade-away jump shot  
3:29