James Harden and the Houston Rockets began their campaign in February on fire, dropping 43 points in the first quarter against the Nuggets in Denver. The reigning MVP contributed 15 in that first period and looked set to comfortably extend his historic scoring streak to 25 games scoring 30+ points.
That's when the Nuggets put the clamps down and the shots stopped falling for Houston.
Over the middle two quarters, the Rockets only scored 52 points while giving up 78.
2019 All-Star reserve Nikola Jokic did his usual with a near triple-double performance of 31 points, 13 rebounds, and 9 assists on 12-of-15 shooting.
NO-LOOK JOKER!- NBA (@NBA) February 2, 2019
He's tallied 29 PTS, 13 REB and 9 AST on @ESPNNBA. #MileHighBasketball pic.twitter.com/OHIS7IeJUs
On Saturday morning, Malik Beasley forced Jokic to share the spotlight. With Jamal Murray (ankle) missing the game, Beasley erupted for a career-high 35 points on 12-of-17 shooting including this monster transition dunk to put an exclamation point on the win:
THE RISE ft. Malik Beasley! #MileHighBasketball pic.twitter.com/0YXb9umtPE- NBA (@NBA) February 2, 2019
Apart from Jokic and Beasley, the Nuggets had five other players in double figures led by 22 points by reserve Torrey Craig (8-of-11 shooting).
Denver, as a team, shot 62.2% from the field and 45.2% on 14 made 3's. They recorded an assist on 37 of their 51 made field goals while only turning the ball over eight times.
Despite the Golden State Warriors' recent 11-game winning streak, this win for the Nuggets takes them back to the top of the Western Conference.
The Rockets, meanwhile, had four of their five starters in double figures led the reigning MVP James Harden - 30 points, 9 assists, and 6 rebounds. He barely kept his 30-point historic streak going with a three in the waning moments once the game seemed to be done.
James Harden recorded his 25th straight 30-point game, tied for the 3rd-longest streak in NBA history. pic.twitter.com/Aed3uhT0lz- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 2, 2019
Chris Paul recorded 20 points and 6 assists but Houston were simply outplayed in Denver. The Rockets' team stats would have comfortably won them a game on another night against another opponent - 52.9% shooting from the field, 16 made 3's on 36.4% shooting from the field and just 10 turnovers.
This contest was the first game of a back-to-back for both teams.
On Sunday, the Nuggets fly out to Minnesota to face the Timberwolves while the Rockets will look to bounce back against the Jazz in Utah.