Nuggets shoot past RocketsApr 16, 2012 - 4:46 AM Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Ty Lawson and Arron Afflalo each scored 20 points, as the Nuggets eased past the Rockets, 101-86 in a matchup between postseason contenders.
Both teams came into the home-and-home series sporting identical 32-27 records, good for the last two spots in the Western Conference playoff race.
Denver seized control of the seventh position with six games to play by shooting 49 percent and holding the Rockets to 32 percent shooting in a lopsided second half.
Luis Scola and Chase Budinger netted 19 points apiece for Houston, which has dropped three straight and holds just a one-game lead over ninth-seeded Phoenix.
Budinger sparked the Rockets with 11 first-quarter points, pacing them to a 27-22 lead, which was extended to 49-43 by halftime.
The tide turned in the third quarter when the Nuggets shot an efficient 13- of-20 (65 percent) from the field.
Houston was up by four before Denver went on a 10-0 run midway through the frame. Kenneth Faried converted a three-point play to start the rally, then came from behind and swatted Courtney Lee going up for a dunk a little later.
The block led to an Afflalo three-pointer at the other end, which gave Denver a 59-53 lead.
"That was huge," Lawson said of the block. "It looked like [Lee] had a wide- open layup. That block ignited us because we came down there and got an open three right after that. It was huge for us."
Houston pulled within one before the hosts ended the quarter on an 18-7 run, as Lawson's layup in transition just before the buzzer provided an 80-68 advantage.
The Rockets made just one field goal over the first six minutes of the final stanza. An Afflalo jumper gave Denver its biggest lead at 95-72, and the Nuggets cruised from there.
"The second half, we just missed a ton of shots. They ran off them, got into us and they played better, no question about it. They dominated the game," Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said.
Denver leads the season series, 2-1. Houston hosts the finale on Monday...The Nuggets have won five straight at home...Denver shot just 4-of-16 (25 percent) from three-point range, but won the battle in the paint, 60-26...Faried finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds...Chandler Parsons and Goran Dragic each scored 12 points in the loss.
- HOUSTON: 86
Apr 15 10:21 PM
- HOUSTON: 68
End of 3rd
Apr 15 9:52 PM
- HOUSTON: 49
Apr 15 9:05 PM
- HOUSTON: 27
End of 1st
Apr 15 8:38 PM
- HOUSTON: 0
1st Quarter - 12:00
Apr 15 8:12 PM
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