Nikola Jokic had 19 points, 18 assists and 12 rebounds, Jamal Murray scored 21 points and the host Denver Nuggets beat the short-handed Houston Rockets 124-111 on Monday night.
Jokic eclipsed his previous career high of 17 assists set Feb. 15, 2018, at Milwaukee. He finished with his 43rd career triple-double to tie Fat Lever for the franchise record.
Paul Millsap also scored 19 points, Michael Porter Jr. had 14 points and nine rebounds, Gary Harris had 14 points, Monte Morris added 12 and Will Barton scored 11 to give Denver seven players in double figures.
James Harden had 34 points, eight assists and six rebounds, Christian Wood scored 23, David Nwaba had 14 and Sterling Brown scored 12 for Houston, which has dropped its first two games after having its opener postponed due to COVID-19 issues.
The Rockets played with just nine players available due to coronavirus issues. Ben McLemore and Kenyon Martin Jr. are self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19 while DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, Eric Gordon and Mason Jones are in quarantine until Wednesday.
The Nuggets threatened to run away with the game in the first half, building a 16-point lead before Houston scored nine straight points and eventually got within 70-60 heading to the locker room.
The Rockets cut the deficit to 73-66 on Nwaba’s short jumper before Denver began to extend the margin again. Millsap scored seven consecutive Denver points, then Murray hit a jumper and fed Porter on an alley-oop to put the Nuggets in front 84-69.
Harden’s three-point play capped an 8-1 run for the Rockets, but Denver recovered. Millsap sank his third 3-pointer and made a layup, Harris hit a pair of layups and Barton drained one from deep during a 19-4 run that produced a 106-83 lead heading into the fourth.
Jokic looked to be done for the night, but he went back in when Houston got the lead under 20. He had three more assists and two more rebounds and did not attempt a field goal in the second half.