Harrington scores 28 to lead Nuggets past RocketsOct 31, 2010 - 4:32 AM By CHRIS DUNCAN AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) -- Al Harrington missed the last seven games of the preseason with a left foot injury, and thinks he's still a few weeks away from feeling like himself again.
He looked close to his best on Saturday night, scoring 28 points in the Denver Nuggets' 107-94 victory over the Houston Rockets.
Harrington hit 10 of 24 shots, including 5 for 8 from 3-point range, and grabbed 10 rebounds.
"Obviously, missing all of training camp, that cost me a little bit of time," said Harrington, who signed with Denver as a free agent over the summer. "I'm this close, I'm feeling good. I just want to keep playing and just get into a good rhythm. It's just going to take some time."
Carmelo Anthony added 24 points, Chauncey Billups scored 13 and Nene had 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Nuggets, who won in Houston for only the fifth time in the last 18 games there.
Luis Scola scored 28 points and Kevin Martin added 21 for the Rockets, who are 0-3 for the first time since the 1999-00 season. Houston went 3 for 19 from 3-point range and was outrebounded 48-44.
Yao Ming scored 14 points, pulled down six rebounds and blocked two shots in 23 minutes. Houston continues to limit his playing time as he comes back from foot surgery that sidelined him all last season.
"I'm surprised at how well my teammates have adjusted to me being on the court after having me out for a year," Yao said. "We just need to continue to work on things."
With Yao on the bench, Scola scored Houston's first eight points of the second half. Yao returned with 7:33 left in the third quarter, but Denver finished the period on a 16-6 spurt to take a 72-69 lead.
J.R. Smith hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the third quarter, then converted a three-point play early in the fourth. Harrington hit two free throws and a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions to stretch Denver's lead to 85-76.
The 6-foot-9 Harrington played 30 minutes off the bench. Denver coach George Karl says he's still figuring out how to use Harrington most effectively.
"We're trying to learn about Al a little bit," Karl said. "He knows how to get open, he knows how to find the 3. He plays hard and rebounds the ball well."
Harrington was self-critical for the 14 missed shots. He was also surprised after the game when he realized he had taken 24 attempts.
"I don't need to be that aggressive every night," he said. "But once I get into rhythm, I think that will really help us a lot, keeping floor space and giving 'Melo and Nene and Chauncey more room to work."
Denver led 90-89 when Yao returned with 4:30 left, and Billups promptly hit a 3-pointer. Anthony stripped the ball from Yao and found Arron Afflalo for a fast-break layup and a 97-89 lead with 3:36 remaining. Harrington beat Yao on an offensive putback on Denver's next trip, and fans started heading for the exits.
"We did a pretty good job until the last part of the third quarter," Houston coach Rick Adelman said. "In the fourth quarter, we just kind of gave in to the situation. It's disappointing, but we just have to keep working at it."
The Rockets pulled within six, but Harrington put it away with a 3-pointer with 1:05 left.
Denver went 10 for 27 from 3-point range and shot 38 percent (34 of 90) overall.
"We started executing on the offensive end, we got some rebounds and we did what we wanted down the stretch," Billups said.
Yao started and hit three of his first four shots, but Nene sneaked by him for an easy layup in the opening minutes. Anthony hit a pull-up 3-pointer on his first shot to give Denver its first lead.
Aaron Brooks picked up two quick fouls in the first four minutes trying to guard Billups and was replaced by Kyle Lowry, who sat out the first two games with back spasms.
Brad Miller replaced Yao with 5:51 left in the first quarter. The Rockets played at a faster pace with Yao on the bench, and built a 25-18 lead. Houston was up 33-27 when Yao returned with 9:13 left in the first half.
Nene just beat the halftime buzzer with his second career 3-pointer to cut Houston's lead to 51-48. Anthony scored 15 points in the opening half.
Notes: Denver went 29 for 33 from the free-throw line. Billups made 10 of 11 and has 4,002 made free throws in his career. ... Martin is 30 for 30 from the free-throw line this season. ... Lowry was hit above the right eye in the first quarter and got four stitches at halftime. ... The Rockets lost their home opener for the first time since the 2000-01 season.
HOUSTON 94 FINAL
Oct 30 11:06 PM
END 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
DENVER 24 24 24 72
HOUSTON 27 24 18 69 END 3RD QTR
HIGH SCORERS AFTER 3RD QUARTER
DEN - CARMELO ANTHONY 19, AL HARRINGTON 18,
NENE HILARIO 11
HOU - LUIS SCOLA 20, KEVIN MARTIN 16,
YAO MING 14
Oct 30 10:28 PM
HALFTIME 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
DENVER 24 24 48
HOUSTON 27 24 51 HALFTIME
HIGH SCORERS AT HALFTIME
DEN - CARMELO ANTHONY 15, AL HARRINGTON 11,
NENE HILARIO 9
HOU - KEVIN MARTIN 14, LUIS SCOLA 10,
YAO MING 8
Oct 30 9:47 PM
END 1ST QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
DENVER 24 24
HOUSTON 27 27 END 1ST QTR
HIGH SCORERS AFTER 1ST QUARTER
DEN - CARMELO ANTHONY 8, NENE HILARIO 6, TWO
PLAYERS WITH 3
HOU - LUIS SCOLA 8, YAO MING 6, KEVIN MARTIN 5
Oct 30 9:14 PM
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