Rockets hold off late Nuggets run to make it 12 straight wins

DENVER — James Harden had 41 points and eight rebounds, Chris Paul scored 23 points and the Houston Rockets beat the Denver Nuggets, 119-114, on Sunday night (Monday, Manila time) for their 12th straight victory.

Harden had 27 in the first half and seven in the fourth quarter, when the Rockets held off a late Denver rally. Harden has scored 40 or more points nine times this season. He finished with seven assists.

Nikola Jokic had 21 points and 14 rebounds for Denver, which had its four-game winning streak snapped. Will Barton added 25 points.

The Rockets are 21-4 since Dec. 29 and own the best record (46-13) in the NBA. They are outscoring teams by an average of 12.5 points during the 12-game winning streak. The five-point win Sunday was their closest game during the streak.

Harden scored 14 points in the last 2:47 of the first quarter and assisted on Houston's other two baskets to end the period when the Rockets extended the lead from five to 13.

Houston led by as many as 18 but Denver rallied in the fourth. Jokic's tip with 2:12 left made it 110-106 and after Joe Johnson missed from the corner, Gary Harris had a chance to cut it to a point with a 3-pointer. But the Nuggets' leading scorer, who finished with six points on 2-of-12 shooting, misfired and Harden hit two more free throws to make it 112-106 with 1:17 left.

His step-back jumper with 46 seconds left clinched it for Houston.

TIP-INS

Rockets: Harden was fouled three times on 3-point attempts and converted one four-point play. ... G Eric Gordon missed his second straight game due to illness and third overall. ... C Nene did not play against his former team. Nene is being rested on back-to-back games and will play Monday in Utah.

Nuggets: Jamal Murray had 19 points. ... Jokic was two assists shy of his fourth consecutive triple-double. ... G Devin Harris had four fouls in four minutes of the first half. The Rockets scored 12 points on those plays. ... F Torrey Craig missed his second straight game a left hamstring strain and hasn't played in the last four overall.

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Rockets: At Utah on Monday night.

Nuggets: Host the L.A. Clippers on Tuesday night.

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