Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Rockets didn't miss a beat without Dwight Howard in the lineup, but they're still happy to have him back.
Howard had 26 points and 13 rebounds after missing the last 11 games with right knee soreness and the Rockets defeated the Denver Nuggets 108-96 on Saturday night.
Howard initially began to experience slight pain in his knee during Houston's Nov. 17 game against the Memphis Grizzlies and had platelet-rich plasma therapy to restore the cartilage in his knee.
The Rockets went 8-3 without Howard in the lineup.
"I'm just glad that I'm back out there with the team playing, healthy," Howard said. 'It's good being on the floor. Just thankful."
James Harden posted a triple-double with 24 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds and Donatas Motiejunas added 25 points for Houston, which has won six of its last seven games.
Ty Lawson tallied 19 points and 12 helpers, while Darrell Arthur supplied 20 points and six boards off the bench for the Nuggets, who have lost five of their last six games.
"We got dominated by their big guys inside," Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said.
After Arron Afflalo nailed a 3-pointer to give the Nuggets a 40-26 margin at the 8:06 mark of the second, Houston responded with a 16-2 run to tie the game. Motiejunas poured in the first seven points of the surge and capped it with a triple to knot the contest at 42-42.
Houston went on a late 7-0 spurt, with Harden's three-point play concluding it and helping the Rockets to a 54-46 cushion. Kenneth Faried's hook shot in the closing moments of the half got Denver within 54-48 heading into the break.
The Rockets opened the second half on an 8-2 flurry to establish their first double-digit lead. Trevor Ariza capped the burst with a trey for a 62-50 spread.
Houston was up 80-73 after three.
The Rockets started the fourth on a 12-4 swing with a Patrick Beverley triple concluding it and give the Rockets a comfortable 92-77 advantage. They cruised to the victory from there.
The Nuggets netted the final seven points of the first quarter, including Lawson's jumper at the buzzer, which staked them to a 31-21 advantage going into the second.
Houston outscored Denver 33-17 in the second.
Howard was averaging 18.8 points and a team-leading 11.3 rebounds per game prior to being injured ... Houston had been 2-8 in its last 10 meetings against the Nuggets ... Denver fell to 4-9 on the road this season ... Houston held Denver to just 37.5 percent (36-of-96) from the floor ... Howard reached the 10,000 rebound mark for his career.