HOUSTON – Courtney Lee scored 22 points, Shane Battier added 17 and the Houston Rockets shot well from 3-point range and controlled Carmelo Anthony in a 121-102 win over the Denver Nuggets on Monday night.
Aaron Brooks had 18 points off the bench and Luis Scola added 10 points and eight rebounds for the Rockets, who shook off a bad offensive start to go 14-for-32 from 3-point range (44 percent) and beat the Nuggets for the second time in a week. Houston won 108-103 in Denver last Monday, despite Anthony's 50 points.
Anthony scored 16 points on 4-for-14 shooting in this one and didn't leave the bench in the fourth quarter, with the Rockets comfortably ahead. Anthony was held under 20 points for the first time in nine games and the Nuggets failed to hit 100 for the first time in eight.
The Rockets matched their season high in assists (31), led by Kyle Lowry's seven. They missed 13 of 20 shots in the first quarter and trailed by as many as 15 early in the second. They finally started shooting better and finished the half with a 27-9 spurt to turn momentum and lead 58-54 at the break.
The Nuggets mustered only 14 points in the third quarter and had more turnovers (6) than field goals (4) in the quarter to trail 88-68 heading to the fourth.
The Rockets preserved the big lead by going 10-for-20 from beyond the arc in the second half. Lee went 5-of-7 from long range and Battier hit all three of his 3-point attempts to help Houston reach its highest point total since a 129-125 win in Minnesota on Jan. 24.
Arron Afflalo led Denver with 17 points and Chauncey Billups added 15.
Denver opened the game with a 12-3 spurt after Houston missed 8 of its first 9 shots. Anthony was scoreless until sinking two free throws with 2:25 left in the quarter to put Denver up 27-15.
Anthony picked up a loose ball and dunked in the first minute of the second quarter to put Denver up 34-19, then came out for a rest with 9:50 left before halftime.
Houston closed the gap to seven before Anthony returned with 5:06 remaining before the break. Lee and Brooks hit 3s over the next three minutes, and the Rockets cut Denver's lead to 49-48.
Billups hit two free throws, but reserve center Jordan Hill's three-point play tied it at 51-all.
Chuck Hayes scored inside and Martin hit his first 3 in the first minute of the third quarter to stretch the lead to nine. Battier sank a 3-pointer with 8:06 left in the quarter to put Houston up 72-60.
Anthony missed a 3-point try and was 3-for-12 from the field midway through the third quarter. Battier and Martin hit consecutive 3s later to extend the lead to 81-64. Lee picked up consecutive steals leading to fast-break baskets that sent the lead over 20.
The Nuggets went 4-for-17 from the field in the third quarter and missed all five of their 3-point attempts.
Denver has lost five of its last six road games, and four of its last five overall.
Notes: The Nuggets have allowed 100 points or more in each of their last 18 road games. ... Denver's 14 third-quarter points matched a season low for a Houston opponent. ... The Rockets outrebounded the Nuggets 46-38.