Paul at Full Strength Tonight for Rockets vs. Nuggets
Friday, February 1 at 10:00 PM ET
The Houston Rockets clash with the Denver Nuggets in a potential playoff preview on Friday night. Chris Paul was limited to 25 minutes and 26 minutes in his first two games back from a hamstring injury. His playing time will increase tonight. “It’s crucial to have him in there in the fourth quarter,” Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni said after Tuesday’s 121-116 loss against the Pelicans.
Paul finished with 10 points and nine assists against the Pelicans. James Harden extended his streak of 30-point games to 24. The MVP front-runner had 11 rebounds, six assists and four steals. He was just 11-for-32 overall and 6-for-18 from 3-point range. That will have to improve tonight.
New Orleans used a 13-5 run in the third quarter to get within 83-81 with about four minutes left in the quarter. They wound up winning the game behind 27 points and 12 rebounds from Jahlil Okafor.
The Nuggets also played the Pelicans in their last game. They were able to beat them 105-99 on the road last Wednesday. Nikola Jokic had 20 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for his eighth triple-double this season. He also blocked two shots, while Malik Beasley scored 22 points. Monte Morris added 20 to give them their fourth straight win.
The Rockets prevailed in the first two meetings against the Nuggets this season. They won 109-99 on November 13 in Denver and 125-113 on January 7 at home. That gives them a nine-game winning streak against Denver heading into this game. Denver is the better team and they’re playing great basketball but I like Houston in the first half.
The Denver Nuggets have some personnel issues to deal with. Jamal Murray (ankle) is out and Gary Harris (groin) is questionable. Although the Houston Rockets struggle on defense, they rank third in the NBA in offensive efficiency. They are averaging 111.0 points per 100 possessions. Having Chris Paul for more minutes can help them start the game strong.
NBA Pick: Rockets 1H +2.0 (-110) at Jazz Sports
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