Nuggets slow Harden in 93-87 win over Rockets
HOUSTON (AP) — If there's one player who never has to be reminded of the importance of rebounding, it's Denver's Kenneth Faried.
That was clear on Wednesday night.
Ty Lawson scored 21 points and Faried had 16 points and 16 rebounds to help the Nuggets to a 93-87 victory over the Houston Rockets.
Faried, a second-year player who holds the NCAA modern-era record for rebounds with 1,673 in his college career, had three in the last minute to hold off a late surge from Houston.
"I just felt the whole game that Kenneth had the spirit that he was going to win this game tonight," Denver coach George Karl said. "He was pretty incredible."
James Harden had a tough night for the Rockets and finished with a season-low 15 points on 5 of 15 shooting.
Harden bulled into the lane for a layup to cut Denver's lead to five with just less than four minutes remaining. But Danilo Gallinari tipped in a missed free throw before a rim-rattling alley-oop dunk by Faried pushed the lead to 89-80.
A pair of free throws by Jeremy Lin cut it to 91-87 with 1:21 remaining. Lin got knocked in the nose on the foul and was bleeding. He had to shoot the free throws with paper stuffed in his left nostril.
Faried blocked a layup attempt by Harden and Chandler Parsons missed a 3-pointer seconds later.
Faried got the rebound on the miss and dunked it on the other end to secure the win.
"The block, his offensive rebounding, his energy — I thought he was probably the most energized guy on the court," Karl said.
Faried, who finished with nine offensive rebounds, said those rebounds were most important when the Nuggets struggled to hit shots late.
"I think it has a lot to do with what we do in practice," he said of offensive rebounding. "Extra possessions are really important in this league and we got a lot of them tonight."
Harden, Houston's newest acquisition, was held in check for most of the night and entered the fourth quarter 2 of 9 with just seven points. Traded from Oklahoma City on Oct. 27 and signed to a five-year, $80 million contract extension a few days later, he was named the Western Conference player of the week after scoring 106 points in his first three games.
"Right now we're in a little bit of a funk," Houston coach Kevin McHale said. "The game right now feels hard ... it doesn't feel like it's rolling and flowing, and we've got to get rolling and flowing and then good things will happen."