"As the games go on, we'll get better," he said. "We haven't played together. We didn't have a training camp or have time to really put in some sets, so we're kind of just figuring things out as we go."
Denver double-teamed Harden some, but the main task of guarding him fell to Andre Iguodala.
"He's such an explosive scorer the way he attacks," Iguodala said. "You really have to be alert at all times. The biggest thing is just being proactive and not reactive to what he's about to do."
The Nuggets led by four in the fourth quarter and used a 7-2 spurt, capped by an alley-oop dunk by Faried to make the lead 78-69 with about nine minutes remaining.
Houston finally got its offense going after a tough-shooting first half and went on a 20-7 run to open the third quarter and cut the lead to 63-61 with just under three minutes left in the quarter. Patrick Patterson led the charge in that span, scoring 12 points.
Patterson had a chance to tie it with about two minutes left, but he badly missed a jump shot.
Patterson finished with 18 points and Carlos Delfino had 19. Omer Asik added 10 points and 13 rebounds for Houston, and Lin had six points, six assists and a career-high six steals.
Gallinari hit a 3 for the Nuggets before they made four straight free throws to push the lead to eight. Delfino's 3-pointer left Houston down 69-64 entering the fourth quarter.
Asik got hit in the face grabbing a rebound in the third quarter and received four stitches on the side of his left eye. He tried to remain in the game after taking the hit, but officials called a timeout because of the bleeding. They weren't able to stop the bleeding on the court so Asik headed to the locker room.
He returned to the start of the fourth quarter.
The Nuggets led by seven after one quarter. Parsons and Delfino made back-to-back 3-pointers for Houston to cut the lead to 25-24 to start the second.
Denver was up by two points midway through the quarter before using a 21-6 run to extend the lead to 54-39 about 2 1/2 minutes before halftime. Lawson had 14 points including a pair of 3-pointers in that span. Houston missed nine shots, including three layups during Denver's run.
NOTES: Asik has had at least 10 rebounds in three straight games. ... Iguodala had 13 points and three steals. ... Harden tied a career high with five steals.