The resurgent Houston Rockets powered to a sixth straight NBA victory on Sunday, withstanding a 36-point triple-double from Denver’s Nikola Jokic in a 107-104 win over the Nuggets.
Fred VanVleet scored 26 points and Turkish center Alperen Sengun added 23 for the Rockets, who improved to 6-3 in the young campaign after amassing just 22 victories last season.
Jokic’s fourth triple-double of the season included 21 rebounds and 11 assists and Denver led 76-74 going into the final period, which featured three lead changes.
Jokic drained a three-pointer with 19.5 seconds left to cut the Rockets’ lead to 103-102, but VanVleet made a pair of free throws and Jae’Sean Tate came up with a steal as Denver attempted to inbound the ball and Houston held on.
Elsewhere Philadelphia’s Tyrese Maxey exploded for a career-high 50 points in a 137-126 victory over the Indiana Pacers.
Dallas star Kyrie Irving made seven of 10 three-pointers on the way to 35 points in the Mavericks’ dominant 136-124 victory over New Orleans while Miami’s Duncan Robinson and Bam Adebayo combined for 50 points as the Heat rallied to beat the San Antonio Spurs 118-113.
In Philadelphia, Maxey keyed a victory for a Sixers team rattled by the road accident that left forward Kelly Oubre nursing a broken rib and other injuries after he was hit by a vehicle while walking near his home on Saturday.
Oubre was treated in hospital and released, but was on the minds of his teammates.
“This had nothing to do with me, this is all Kelly Oubre, man,” Maxey — whose previous career high was 44 points — said after hitting 20 of 32 shots from the field, including seven of 11 from three-point range.
The 23-year-old added seven rebounds and five assists and reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Joel Embiid added a double-double of 37 points and 13 rebounds as the Sixers notched their eighth straight win.
Irving got hot early in New Orleans, scoring 22 points in the first half to help the Mavs to a 67-54 lead.
Luka Doncic connected on 11 of 18 shots from the field, including four of nine from three-point range, on the way to 30 points. Fifteen of those came in the Mavs’ 42-point third quarter and Dallas led by as many as 29 points in the fourth.
In San Antonio, Robinson scored 26 points and Adebayo added 24 with 11 rebounds and the Heat shook off a slow start to subdue sensational San Antonio rookie Victor Wembanyama and the Spurs.
Miami, still missing injured Tyler Herro and without Kyle Lowry, trailed by as many as 19 in the second quarter, but they turned the tide to notch a fifth straight victory.
Jimmy Butler, back after missing Saturday’s game for personal reasons, scored 19 points and former Spur Josh Richardson converted two crucial shots in the last two minutes before capping the scoring with a pair of free-throws.
Grizzlies beat Clippers
Keldon Johnson scored 20 points for San Antonio. Wembanyama added 18 with 11 rebounds but also had seven of the Spurs’ 17 turnovers.
In Los Angeles, Desmond Bane scored 27 points to help the Memphis Grizzlies claw out their second win of the season, a 105-101 victory over the Clippers.
The Grizzlies have struggled with star Ja Morant’s 25-game suspension due to stretch into December. But they were able to hold off a Clippers team still trying to figure out the best use of new acquisition James Harden.
The Clippers have now lost five straight, including four since the former league MVP arrived in a trade from Philadelphia.
“I saw some intriguing things but we’ve just got to be better,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said, adding that the team’s offense lacked energy.
“We can’t just walk around offensively,” he said.
There were home defeats for both the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors.
Oklahoma City’s Jalen Williams scored 25 points and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander added 21 for the Thunder in a 111-99 victory over Kevin Durant and the Suns.
In San Francisco, Anthony Edwards scored 33 points to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 116-110 victory over the Warriors, who had 38 points from Stephen Curry but lost for the second straight night on their home floor.
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