Nuggets vs. Rockets preview: Houston defense vulnerable against Denver

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets need to find themselves, while the Denver Nuggets can build upon their biggest win of the year.

Winners in seven of their last nine games, the Denver Nuggets are coming off the biggest victory of all in a 121-118 overtime win against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

A lot can be said about surviving 37 points from Kevin Durant and 36 from Russell Westbrook, but now it's about building upon an impressive victory. The Nuggets head to Houston on Wednesday, where they'll face a Rockets team that's simply happy it won its last game.

The Rockets (22-21) ended a seven-game losing streak Monday against the lowly Charlotte Bobcats, and Kevin McHale's squad won't be getting by if it continues to give up the most points in the NBA. Houston gives up 103.2 points per game, and sure, part of it is the Rockets playing at the fastest pace of anyone in the league. Still, the high-scoring Nuggets (25-18) have more firepower, and the Rockets must be weary about their turnovers if they want to make it a game.

Matchup to watch

James Harden continues his breakout season as the man in Houston, averaging 25.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game on the year. He'll be countered by Denver swingman Andre Iguodala, a Team USA teammate and product of the Arizona Wildcats, Harden's rival while he was at Arizona State.

The Denver Post writes that the two hang out together during the summer and, of course, know each other from the national team.

How will Iguodala stop Harden?

"He's putting up big numbers, but he's not necessarily scoring on one individual defender," Iguodala said. "They do a good job at putting him in position in pick-and-rolls to where he's going one-on-one at bigs after the pick-and-rolls, so it's important to jump him early and not let him attack. Making them react to our pressure."

Issues to watch

For the Nuggets, center Javale McGee has been struggling in the new year, shooting poorly from the floor, turning the ball over nearly twice per game and looking like all the small steps forward from this season have ended with a leap backward.

On Houston's end, starting point guard Jeremy Lin has struggled lately. He's recorded more assists than turnovers in just four of the past eight games, and scored over his season average of 12 points just once. Against the Bobcats on Monday, Lin was benched down the stretch by McHale in favor of recent D-League callup Patrick Beverley.

Time: 8 p.m. ET


Odds: Houston is a three-point favorite at home.

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