WHAT THEY SAID:
Nuggets coach Michael Malone on the game: “The third game in four nights, against one of the better offensive teams, and hold them to 42 percent from the field and only 29 (percent) from three. So the defense was phenomenal. Couldn’t make a shot. I attribute that to a lot of tired legs. You’ve got two very tough and emotional games at Miami and New Orleans. Obviously we had some great looks, shots that went in and out. Just couldn’t get one to fall.”
Malone on the free throw disparity: “I’m not going to say too much on that, but they get there 38 times. We get there 18. They’re masters at drawing the fouls and hopefully at some point the league will clean it up where the people are kind of exploiting the system right now, getting to the foul line. But James (Harden) is a great player. All of their guys do a great job of that.”
On the road trip: “I couldn’t be prouder of our guys. Tough loss, but long road trip, 10 days on the road. Third game in four nights against the third team in the West. We fought them tooth and nail all the way to the end, and came up a little bit short.”
Nuggets center Nikola Jokić on guarding James Harden: “He’s aggressive. He’s a good player. He’s strong, he’s good with the ball. So, it’s really tough. He got many fouls.”
Jokic on whether fatigued played a role in the loss: “I don’t know because we played good, we just didn’t make shots.”
– Jameer Nelson returned to the lineup after missing two games with a right calf strain. And he played big minutes on it, going 32 minutes in the game as the starting point guard. Nelson scored eight points with five assists. Afterward he said he felt okay, though it is not near 100 percent. But a playoff chase means Nelson expects he’ll play from here on out.
– Wednesday was Danilo Gallinari’s third straight game with over 20 points. The veteran scored 23 on 8-of-16 shooting, including three 3-pointers. In his last three games, Gallinari is averaging 26.7 points on 56 percent shooting, including 44 percent from the 3-point line and 92.9 percent from the free throw line. Gallo is also averaging 5.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists in the span as well.
– The Nuggets peppered the Toyota Center basketball rims, putting up 104 shots one day after taking 99 shots in a win at New Orleans. The 104 shots tied for the second-most the Nuggets have attempted in a game this season.
– The Nuggets’ 38 3-point attempts were their fourth-highest single game total from the arc this season. Their 18.4 percent success rate, however, is the second-lowest of the season and is just the second time the Nuggets have failed to hit at least 20 percent from the arc in a game.
– The Nuggets loss to Houston snapped a streak of back-to-back sweeps at two. Overall, the Nuggets had won six straight games that were involved in back-to-backs until Wednesday night.
– Nikola Jokić had a career-high five steals in the game, along with 12 points, 19 rebounds and nine assists. The rebounds were two short of tying his career high of 21, set earlier this season. The double-double was Jokic’s 37th of the season.