Lawson, Chandler lead Nuggets past Rockets
HOUSTON (AP) — The Denver Nuggets pounced when they sensed the Houston Rockets were starting to crumble.
Ty Lawson scored 21 points, Wilson Chandler had 20 and the Nuggets pulled away in the third quarter Wednesday night for a 105-95 victory over the mistake-prone Rockets.
Danilo Gallinari sank three 3-pointers and scored 18 points for the Nuggets, who converted 28 points off 23 Houston turnovers to beat the Rockets for the fifth straight time.
Denver took control with a 21-5 burst late in the third quarter, turning a flurry of Rockets' turnovers into easy baskets. Lawson said the Nuggets noticed a lapse in the Rockets' defense as their mistakes mounted.
"They're high-scoring and they love transition, but they don't like guarding," said Lawson, who also had seven assists. "Whenever they scored, or even when we got the rebound, we played in the third quarter to push it and try to get easy points. They didn't really run back too much and that's what we did."
James Harden scored 23 points but committed seven turnovers, and Omer Asik grabbed 13 rebounds for the Rockets. Houston coach Kevin McHale took point guard Jeremy Lin out of the game with 3:27 left in the third quarter, but the Nuggets continued their surge.
JaVale McGee turned in the highlight of the night, flipping the ball off the backboard and then dunking the putback with one hand for an 80-64 lead.
"I thought, if I didn't dunk it, I was going to get taken out of the game," McGee said.
The Nuggets shot 62 percent (13 of 21) in the third quarter and scored 12 points off seven Houston turnovers.
Denver poured it on in the fourth quarter, stretching the lead over 20. Chandler drove down an open lane for an easy layup with 9:18 left and fans headed for the exits.
The Rockets have lost eight of nine.
"I think, right now, we are low on confidence, there's no question," McHale said. "You can see it with our guys and we're going to have to pump 'em up and get 'em believing again."
McGee and Andre Iguodala scored 14 points apiece for the Nuggets, who've won eight of their last 10 games. Denver shot 55 percent (22 of 40) and outrebounded Houston 21-16 in the second half.
"We've just got to keep playing like that," Lawson said.