Moore: The Nuggets’ Slide, the Rockets’ Bounceback and the Team to Buy Ahead of Tuesday’s Showdown
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Garry Harris Jr.
Betting odds: Houston Rockets at Denver Nuggets
- Spread: Nuggets -4.5
- Over/Under: 214
- Time: 9 p.m. ET
>> All odds as of 1:30 p.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds and track your bets
The worst thing about the NBA schedule: You have another game, no matter what, in the next 72 hours. Riding high? Your win streak will be challenged within the next three days at most.
The best thing about the NBA schedule? There’s always another game. No matter how bad you are, there’s an opportunity to turn it around coming right up.
So it is as the Nuggets and the Rockets face one another on Tuesday night in Denver.
A week ago, the Nuggets were riding high, off to their second-best start in franchise history at 9-1. Their defense had been revolutionized and surely, the offense would come around.
Meanwhile, the Rockets were coming off a three-game winning streak but the signs were still rough. Things would get worse and reach a boiling point last Thursday. Oklahoma City, without Russell Westbrook, would run the Rockets right out of the building and down the Red River and back to Texas.
That would spark conversation about Carmelo Anthony, who finished 1-of-11 in that game, and now discussions continue about the Rockets potentially waving the former All-Star.
Meanwhile, the Nuggets have crashed back to earth at meteoric speed. Nikola Jokic faced a controversy stemming from a homophobic remark, and then went into a bizarre funk where he didn’t shoot — almost at all — in consecutive games.
The result was an ugly, miserable loss in Memphis to the Grizzlies. Jokic would then force the issue over and over again vs. the Nets at home, scoring 37 on 22 shots with 21 rebounds. That’s a monster game, and yet it felt like as much of a statement as the one field goal attempt vs. Memphis, and the Nuggets still lost to Brooklyn.
Then on Sunday, Michael Malone inserted Juancho Hernangomez into the starting unit, which sparked the offense, but the defense suffered, and live-ball turnovers returned to plague the team.
Had it not been for the losses to Memphis and Brooklyn, and how weird Jokic’s performance was in those games, the Sunday loss to the Bucks would be forgivable.
The Bucks are among the top two best teams in the East right now, Brook Lopez was a Splash Giant, and the Nuggets coughed up possessions late. It was a coin flip game going into the season, it was a coin flip game going into Sunday night, and even with the Bucks on a back-to-back, it’s not a bad loss. But it was the third in a row for Denver, which means the Nuggets need a win vs. Houston, who has owned them, to get right.
For Houston, the Thunder loss kicked off self examination, and a weekend loss to the Spurs seemed to only reinforce their broken situation.
And then a funny thing happened: They started making shots.
Houston entered Sunday with the 27th-ranked offense and the worst team in the league in effective field goal percentage at 48.8 percent. The Rockets put up a 122 offensive rating and a 62 percent eFG on the Pacers. The dam broke all at once.
So now the Nuggets are in a tailspin, and Houston’s maybe pulling out of it. What happens when two teams pass one another on the NBA schedule pulley?