Rockets polish off Nuggets
The Houston Rockets led end-to-end to hand the Denver Nuggets an 82-75 loss, the team's first of the 2010 NBA Summer League on the sixth day of competition in Las Vegas. The Nuggets came into their final game of the desert classic with a 4-0 record, but were unable to come back from what grew to as much as an 18-point hole.
The Nuggets rallied back, outscoring the Rockets 25-20 to close the gap to as few as six points with less than six minutes to play, but Houston's advantage proved too much to overcome with the lead returning to double digits as the game came to a close.
Chase Budinger scored Houston's first 12 points, including an authoritative dunk off of a steal three minutes into the game as the Rockets held the Nuggets to three points through the first half of the first quarter.
Denver only made three field goals in the first period and trailed by as many as 13 points. Budinger's 12 points matched Denver's offensive output, with the Rockets owning a 20-12 advantage after one.
The Nuggets settled into their offense in the second quarter, shaving the lead down to as few as eight points on the back of Laurence' Ekperigin's 10-point quarter. Despite Ekperigin's offensive burst, Houston outscored Denver 21-18 in the second period, including a buzzer-beating Ishmael Smith jumper that gave the Rockets a 41-30 halftime lead.
Houston extended their lead to as many as 18 points in the third quarter, but the teams stayed even, trading baskets through the stanza. Houston's Jermaine Taylor scored eight points in the third, giving him 11 at the end of three, while Denver's Dontaye Draper finished with six in the quarter. Denver was up 62-50 heading into the game's final period.
Budinger finished with a game-high 24 points, while three other Rockets scored in double figures. Ekperigin scored a team-high 21 for Denver in the loss.