Ty Lawson scored a game-high 21 points and handed out eight assists on Wednesday, as the Denver Nuggets knocked off the Houston Rockets, 93-87, at Toyota Center.
Kenneth Faried recorded a double-double with 16 points and 16 rebounds, while Corey Brewer chipped in 14 points off the bench for the Nuggets, who have won two straight after dropping their first three games of the season.
Carlos Delfino led Houston with 19 points and Patrick Patterson followed with 18 points for the Rockets, who have lost two straight since opening the season with back-to-back victories.
"All in all, it was just a letdown on our part offensively and defensively," Patterson admitted. "Offensively, we didn't get open looks and share the ball well enough like we normally do or knock down shots. Defensively, we had miscommunication, gave up too many easy baskets."
James Harden entered the game averaging a league-high 35.3 points per game, but finished with just 15 points and turned the ball over six times in the setback.
"We decided as a team that we were going to take the ball out of Harden's hands," Faried said. "It was an overall team effort defending him. Overall we did a good job staying in front of him."
Denver held a 69-64 edge after three quarters and built an 85-76 advantage with just over five minutes remaining after a 3-pointer from Danilo Gallinari.
After the teams exchanged 4-0 spurts, Delfino buried a triple and Harden followed with a slam dunk to trim the margin to 89-85 with 2:11 left.
Houston trailed by four with the ball and under 20 seconds remaining after empty possessions from both teams, but Chandler Parsons' 3-point try hit the back of the rim and bounced out to Faried, who threw down a one-handed slam at the other end to give the Nuggets a decisive six-point advantage.
After Patrick Patterson tied the game at 13-13 with 5:26 left in the first, Andre Iguodala buried a 3-pointer to spark a 10-2 Denver run and help the Nuggets carry a 25-18 edge into the second.
Parsons and Delfino opened the second with back-to-back triples to bring the Rockets within one, but Lawson poured in 11 points during a 16-4 Denver run midway through the frame to give the Nuggets a 54-39 advantage with 2:25 left until halftime.
Denver took a 56-41 lead into the second half, but the Nuggets didn't score a basket from the field for over five-plus minutes in the third to allow the Rockets to pull within 59-49.
Faried's layup gave the Nuggets their first bucket of the frame at the 6:41 mark, but the Rockets responded with a 12-2 run to pull within 63-61 with under three minutes left in the third.
Denver has taken the last four meetings with Houston ... The Nuggets won the rebounding battle, 49-43 and outscored the Rockets 44-38 in the paint ... Denver shot 45.1 percent from the field compared to just 36.9 percent from the Rockets.