Beasley, Jokic star as Nuggets rout Rockets

Malik Beasley scored a career-high 35 points, Nikola Jokic had 31 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, and the host Denver Nuggets nearly held James Harden below 30 points in a 136-122 win over the Houston Rockets on Friday night.

Harden finished with exactly 30 points and now has scored at least that many in 25 straight games. Nine came in the fourth quarter, the final on a 3-pointer with just over a minute left to reach 30.

Torrey Craig scored a career-high 22 points for Denver, which ended a nine-game losing streak against the Rockets. The Nuggets last beat Houston on Dec. 14, 2015.

Denver played without its starting backcourt. Jamal Murray missed his fourth straight game with a sprained left ankle, and Gary Harris was out with a right adductor strain.

Kenneth Faried, who played his first seven seasons with Denver, had a season-high 23 points.

Harden had 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the first quarter to lead a scorching Rockets team. Houston hit 16 of 22 shots in the period and were 8-for-12 from 3-point range to take a 43-35 lead into the second.

The 43 points were the most the Rockets scored in any quarter this season, but the Nuggets topped that with one of the best quarters in team history. Denver outscored Houston 48-26 in the second to lead 83-71 at halftime. Beasley had 22 points in the first half, which was one short of his career high.

Harden missed all four shots he took in the second and scored just three points in the frame.

Denver quickly pushed the lead to 18 at the start of the third quarter. Beasley hit a 3-pointer, Jokic scored on a shot in the lane and then hit a 3-pointer to make it 91-73.

The Rockets got within nine, but Craig scored seven straight points in a 10-0 Denver run, and the Nuggets led by 18 heading into the fourth.

Houston got to within 11 at 124-113 with 4:17 left on Harden’s sixth 3-pointer of the game to give him 27. Denver went on a 10-2 run to put it away.