DENVER – Luis Scola scored 25 points and the Houston Rockets handed the injury-riddled Denver Nuggets their third straight loss, 99-90 on Monday night.
The Nuggets not only lost for the fifth time in six games but they lost budding star forward Danilo Gallinari, who rolled his left ankle in the third quarter. X-rays revealed a chip fracture of the foot and he was scheduled for further tests Tuesday "for a definitive diagnosis," the team said.
Gallinari had 14 points when he went down with 9:38 left in the third quarter. He was replaced by Rudy Fernandez, who also scored 14 points to top Denver's makeshift lineup.
Kyle Lowry added 20 points for Houston, which won for just the fourth time in a dozen road games. Chase Budinger had 16 points on the strength of five 3-pointers, his last one giving Houston a seven-point lead with a minute left.
The Nuggets were already without three starters and a key backup going into the game.
Gallinari, who recently signed a four-year, $42 million contract, hopped downcourt in pain after stepping on Chandler Parsons' foot, twisting his ankle. Parsons was whistled for the shooting foul and Gallinari stayed in, sank both shots but they waved for the Nuggets to take him out as he hobbled back down the court.
Gallinari joined a growing list of Nuggets on the mend. Post player Nene (left heel), guard Arron Afflalo (left ankle, right big toe) and center Timofey Mozgov (left ankle) were all out Monday night, along with backup forward Corey Brewer following the death of his father.
Houston's leading scorer, Kevin Martin — held to two points on 1-of-10 shooting in a loss at Minnesota on Saturday — went 1 for 9 against Denver and finished with eight points.
Rookies Kenneth Faried and Julyan Stone started for the Nuggets, who hung tough despite their rash of injuries. It was 49-all when Gallinari went down and Houston led by a point heading into the fourth quarter.
The Rockets hit six straight 3-pointers in the second half, three by Budinger, whose long-range jumper with 4:43 left gave Houston an 89-83 lead.
After Lowry's 3 made it 94-86, the Nuggets trimmed it to 94-90 but Al Harrington missed two foul shots with 1:21 left and Budinger sank a 3 at the other end to make it 97-90.
Scola scored seven points during a 17-8 run Houston used to close out the first half and take a 47-45 lead into the break. The Nuggets had to feel fortunate to be so close after missing all nine of their 3-pointers and turning the ball over 13 times to Houston's four.
Notes: Houston C Samuel Dalembert was credited with a steal when the ball bounced off his face in the opening minutes. ... Nuggets coach George Karl said he hopes to have both Nene and Afflalo back for Wednesday night's game against the Dallas Mavericks. There's no timeline for Mozgov's return and Karl said he wasn't sure when Brewer would be available again.