DENVER (AP) — Dishing the ball to the open man in the first half opened the door to Randy Foye's offensive surge in the second half.
Foye scored 24 of his 30 points in the last 24 minutes, going 7 for 7 from the field in the third quarter, and the Denver Nuggets hung on to beat the Houston Rockets 123-116 on Wednesday night.
Kenneth Faried had 23 points and Timofey Mozgov added 22 for the Nuggets, who beat the Rockets for the first time in three tries this season. Foye also had 15 assists, 11 of them coming in the first half.
"I just think it was a Karma thing, where in the beginning, I had some shots where I could have come off (pick-and-rolls) and pulled up, but I passed it to Kenneth, passed it to Timo, got those guys going," Foye said. "That kind of opened everything up. When I was coming off pick-and-rolls later, they were so concerned with our bigs that I was coming off and knocking them down."
Houston coach Kevin McHale said the Rockets have to play stronger defensively.
"Our defense is bad," he said. "Faried and Mozgov were just running down the floor, posting us up and throwing us out of the way. We had no answers for them. In the third quarter, we got them somewhat under control and then Foye went crazy."
Jeremy Lin led eight Houston players in double figures with 18 points.
Both teams were missing key players heading into the game and the Rockets got a scare when James Harden, leading a fast break, banged his left shin in a collision with Aaron Brooks midway through the third quarter. Fouled on the play, Harden made both free throws and left the game briefly to have the leg tended to before returning to action, though he only played sparingly after the injury.
"I guess I got kneed in the shin but it was pretty painful. For a couple of seconds, my leg was numb," Harden said.