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Jokic's triple-double leads Nuggets past Rockets 124-111

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, left, drives past Houston Rockets forward Jae'Sean Tate in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Dec. ...
Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., right, drives as Houston Rockets guard James Harden defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game...
Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, left, looks to pass the ball as Houston Rockets guard Sterling Brown defends during the second half of an NBA baske...
Houston Rockets guard James Harden, left, and forward P.J. Tucker watch from the bench during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game agains...
Houston Rockets guard James Harden confers with coach Stephen Silas during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Denver Nugget...
Houston Rockets forward Christian Wood drives as Denver Nuggets forwards Michael Porter Jr., front left, and Paul Millsap defend during the second hal...

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, left, drives past Houston Rockets forward Jae'Sean Tate in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Dec. ...

Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., right, drives as Houston Rockets guard James Harden defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game...

Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, left, looks to pass the ball as Houston Rockets guard Sterling Brown defends during the second half of an NBA baske...

Houston Rockets guard James Harden, left, and forward P.J. Tucker watch from the bench during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game agains...

Houston Rockets guard James Harden confers with coach Stephen Silas during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Denver Nugget...

Houston Rockets forward Christian Wood drives as Denver Nuggets forwards Michael Porter Jr., front left, and Paul Millsap defend during the second hal...

DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic had 19 points, 18 assists and 12 rebounds for the 42nd triple-double of his career, and the Denver Nuggets beat the short-handed Houston Rockets 124-111 on Monday night for their first win of the season.

Jamal Murray added 21 points before leaving with 4:05 remaining in the third quarter after a collision in traffic sent him sprawling to the floor. He held his hand to his head as he laid on the floor for a couple of minutes but got up and walked under his own power to the locker room for further examination. He was back on the bench midway through the fourth but did not re-enter the game.

James Harden had 34 points to lead undermanned Houston. Christian Wood added 23.

The Rockets have opened the season without key components of their roster, including John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Gordon and Mason Jones, who remain away from the team due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Houston dressed nine players against the Nuggets and was coming off a two-point overtime loss at Portland in the season opener Saturday.

Harden put on a show in the second quarter, scoring 21 points and connecting on three 3-pointers, but the Rockets still trailed 70-60 at halftime. Jokic and Murray combined for 36 points in the first half to help spark the Nuggets' offense, which had struggled during an 0-2 start.

The Rockets pulled to 87-79 on a dunk by Jae’Sean Tate with 5:33 left in the third but the Nuggets closed out the period with a 19-4 run. Paul Millsap touched off the flurry with a 3-pointer off a feed from Jokic.

Denver maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way.

TIP-INS

Rockets: On a pregame Zoom call, coach Stephen Silas said he was hopeful most if not all the players either quarantining or self-isolating would be able to emerge from the health protocols and rejoin the team by mid-week. "Wednesday’s practice is an important practice, getting these guys back in and getting the group on the same page,” Silas said.

Nuggets: F JaMychal Green, who left the Los Angeles Clippers to join the Nuggets in free agency during the offseason, remains sidelined by a left calf strain. He missed a third straight game but is getting closer to making his Denver debut, resuming practice in a limited fashion.

UP NEXT

Rockets: Host the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night in their first home game of the season. Houston’s scheduled home opener last week against Oklahoma City was postponed after COVID-19 quarantine protocols depleted the Rockets’ roster below the eight players required by the NBA to play a game.

Nuggets: Complete a back-to-back set with their first road game Tuesday night at Sacramento, which handed Denver a 124-122 overtime loss in Wednesday’s season opener.

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Updated : 2021-03-04 15:04 GMT+08:00