Rockets hope to get stronger versus Nuggets

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Rockets return home playing good basketball when they jump it up Saturday night against the Denver Nuggets at the Toyota Center.

Houston has won five of its last six and is 8-2 in its last 10 games. The Rockets have taken two in a row at home, where they'll play four of their next five.

The Rockets may get some reinforcements on Saturday. Dwight Howard has missed 11 games with a knee injury, but he is aiming to return versus the Nuggets.

"That's the plan," Howard said of his return. "I don't want to put a date on it, but that might be the best time. We'll have a couple days of practice after [Thursday's game against Sacramento], and I should be ready to go."

The Rockets prevailed in that Thursday night contest at Sleep Train Arena, 113-109, in overtime.

James Harden put the Rockets on his back and willed them to that victory on Thursday. Harden scored a season-high 44 points to lead the Rockets and scored 34 points in a loss to Golden State on Wednesday. He sent the game to overtime with a deep 3-pointer, then scored the first 10 Houston points in the extra session.

"That was definitely a tough game. Those guys on the other side definitely fought hard. We had the same energy," Harden said. "We fought through it."

Harden leads the NBA with 26.4 points per game.

Trevor Ariza and Patrick Beverley each netted 15 points and Donatas Motiejunas added 14 points for Houston.

The Rockets will have off until Wednesday when they travel to the Pepsi Center to meet these same Nuggets.

Denver stalled a four-game losing streak on Wednesday night with a 102-82 home thrashing of the Miami Heat.

Wilson Chandler scored 17 points as the Nuggets turned a 48-48 halftime score into a comfortable lead thanks to a dominant third quarter. Chandler set the tone with a jumper less than a minute in. Ty Lawson followed with five straight points and J.J. Hickson's putback layup forced a Miami timeout.

Denver continued to expand its lead, with Timofey Mozgov's three-point play with just over a minute remaining in the period making it 72-59. Erick Green beat the buzzer with a deep 3, and the Nuggets took a 79-62 lead into the fourth.

The margin reached 27 in the final period, as Denver rode its reserves to the finish line.

"Once again, we keep a team under 100 points," said Nuggets coach Brian Shaw.

Arron Afflalo scored 16 points while Lawson tallied 10 points and nine assists for the Nuggets. Kenneth Faried netted 13 with eight rebounds in his return to the court and Green scored a career-high 11 points.

The Rockets won two of three against the Nuggets last season, but Denver is 8-2 in its last 10 in the series. Houston won both home dates last season to stop a four-game home losing streak to the Nuggets.