Rockets 103, Nuggets 89

By: AP
By: AP

Tracy McGrady scored 22 points, Shane Battier added 20 and the Houston Rockets tied a franchise record with their 15th straight win, a 103-89 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night.

The winning streak is the longest in the NBA this season and matches the longest one in franchise history, reached twice, with the last one coming in their championship season of 1993-94. It was Houston's third straight win since losing All-star center Yao Ming for the season with a stress fracture in his foot and its 19th win in the last 20 games.

Houston trailed by seven in the first quarter, before taking the lead with about a minute left in the quarter on a dunk by McGrady after a turnover by Allen Iverson. The Rockets didn't trail after that and led by double digits for most of the game.

Iverson had a tough night, going 7-for-22 and finishing with a 17 points after scoring 38 on Friday. He was scoreless in the third quarter and didn't score again until a jump shot with less than 8 minutes left in the game. In the fourth quarter, he drove the lane and missed a layup before falling face-first onto the court. He got up shaking his head in disbelief.

The Rockets have won their last six games by 10 points or more, extending a franchise record.

Carmelo Anthony led the Nuggets with 19 points and Kenyon Martin had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

The Rockets were up by nine entering the fourth quarter and outscored Denver 18-8 in the first eight minutes of the period, thanks to a pair of 3s by Battier, to stretch their lead to 98-79. Nuggets coach George Karl replaced his starters with just under 2 minutes remaining.

Dikembe Mutombo started the third straight game in place of Yao and had five rebounds, three blocks and two points in 24 minutes. Carl Landry also filled in at the position and had 12 points and five rebounds.

Houston stretched a 10-point halftime lead to 76-60 with about 3 minutes left in the third quarter. J.R. Smith then hit two straight 3-pointers to get Denver back within 10 about a minute later. The Nuggets trailed 80-71 entering the fourth quarter.

Houston scored the last six points of the second quarter to lead 50-40 at halftime.

The Rockets, who hadn't trailed in two straight games, got behind 4-0 in this one and Denver led 12-5 midway through the first quarter. Houston scored seven straight points to tie it, before the Nuggets took a 16-12 lead on two quick baskets.

A 9-2 run, fueled by six points by McGrady, gave Houston a 21-18 at the end of the first quarter.

Houston got 18 points from Luis Scola and 16 points and eight assists from Rafer Alston.

Game notes
Karl said guard Chucky Atkins, who had surgery in January to repair a sports hernia, should return to practice Monday and could play in 10-12 days. ... Roger Clemens watched the game from a courtside seat. His lawyer, Rusty Hardin, who has represented him since he was accused of using steroids and human growth hormone Mitchell report, sat two seats from him. ... Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young, who grew up in Houston, also attended the game.


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