DENVER — Nikola Jokic blocked Jae’Sean Tate’s drive to the basket as time ran out and the short-handed Denver Nuggets escaped with a 95-94 victory over the Houston Rockets on Saturday (Sunday, Manila time).
Jokic finished with 28 points and 14 rebounds in the absence of forward Michael Porter Jr.
Porter left the game with 4:50 remaining in the first quarter and didn’t return because of what the team called lower back soreness. Porter missed a fast-break layup early in the game and came up the court gingerly. He stayed in the game for more than four minutes before leaving.
Aaron Gordon had nine points, including a pair of corner 3-pointers, his last one with 51.4 seconds left that gave Denver the lead.
The Nuggets had a chance to go up by three but P.J. Dozier missed a shot with 12.8 left. The Rockets raced down the court and got the ball to Tate, who drove baseline and went up for a possible winning basket but Jokic blocked it.
Jokic also had a block in the final seconds at Minnesota to preserve a win against the Timberwolves on Oct. 30.
Christian Wood had 12 points and 17 rebounds and Daniel Theis scored 18 points in his return to the lineup. Theis’ 3-pointer from the top of the circle had given the Rockets the 94-89 lead with 2:44 left.
The Rockets led by as many as eight in the first half and 47-46 at the break. The Nuggets went ahead on Will Barton’s dunk and stretched the lead to six midway through the third quarter. Despite 12 points and seven rebounds from Jokic in the third, Houston trailed just 72-71 heading into the fourth.
Jalen Green tries to get past Nikola Jokic.
Rockets: Coach Stephen Silas said Danuel House Jr. could return to the lineup Sunday night against Golden State. He has missed the last five games with a right foot sprain. ... Theis had missed two games with soreness in his right big toe.
Nuggets: Barton had 15 points, the only other Denver player in double figures. The Nuggets have won six straight home games against Houston and five straight overall.
Rockets: At Golden State on Sunday night.
Nuggets: Host Miami on Monday night.