Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 3)

Series starts 1/12

Game 1: Friday, January 12th
Game 2: Saturday, January 20th
Game 3: Friday, March 2nd

Rockets 90

(24-13, 11-10 away)

Nuggets 86

(17-17, 10-10 home)

    Coverage: ESPN/WatchESPN

    8:30 PM ET, January 12, 2007

    Pepsi Center, Denver, CO

    1 2 3 4 T
    HOU 17 27 23 2390
    DEN 20 21 23 2286

    Top Performers

    Hou: S. Battier 25 Pts, 7 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl

    Den: A. Iverson 28 Pts, 4 Reb, 5 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk

    Battier's 12 fourth-quarter points boost Rockets

    DENVER (AP) -- With Tracy McGrady drawing all the attention, Shane Battier all too willingly knocked down the open shots.

    Battier scored 25 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter, and the Houston Rockets held off the Denver Nuggets 90-86 on Friday night.

    As the Nuggets watched every move made by McGrady, Battier quietly went unnoticed.

    "I like it that way," he said. "I don't want anyone to pay attention to me. Hopefully, my defenders will keep leaving me open."

    Battier hit two 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter, including one that gave Houston an 89-86 lead with 46.7 seconds.

    Yakhouba Diawara missed a 3-point attempt with 4.9 seconds remaining in the game and Luther Head sealed the win by making one of two free throws with 2.1 seconds left.

    "I just hit a few jumpers," Battier modestly said. "At the end of the of the night, that's all I did -- hit a few jumpers."

    McGrady had 12 points and 11 assists as the Rockets won for the eighth time in nine games.

    "He's a playmaker," Battier said. "He makes the right decisions 98 percent of the time. Some nights he helps us by shooting, some nights by his assists."

    Steve Blake scored 13 points -- all in the second half -- in his Denver debut. Blake didn't practice with the team Friday morning as he waited for the paperwork to go through on the trade that brought him from Milwaukee in exchange for Earl Boykins, Julius Hodge and cash considerations.

    Blake certainly made quite an impression on his new teammates, though.

    "He's definitely a bright spot," Allen Iverson said. "He adds a lot of toughness to our team."

    Marcus Camby tied his career high with 24 rebounds despite battling an illness and playing with a fractured right ring finger. His 19 defensive rebounds tied an NBA season high.

    "I tell Marcus all the time he's one of the few people who doesn't have to score points to be a major factor in the game," Nuggets coach George Karl said.

    Iverson, who was playing with a sore big toe on his right foot, finished with 28 points. He scored the Nuggets' first 10 points.

    "It was frustrating not to get the win," said Iverson, who played 43 minutes, 43 seconds and is averaging a league-leading 42.7 minutes a game. "We had an opportunity to get the win, and we just didn't get it done. They outplayed us."

    When Battier was informed he almost matched Iverson in points, he just laughed.

    "A.I. scores more points in his sleep than I'll score in my career," Battier said.

    Houston fell behind 83-78 with 3:18 remaining in the game, but didn't panic. After the Rockets called a timeout, the team closed out the game on a 12-3 run.

    So, what exactly did coach Jeff Van Gundy say to his players?

    "Nothing really," Battier said. "We're a stoic group. We're not going to let the highs and lows get to us. We just wanted to play good, solid Rocket basketball."

    The Nuggets are counting down the days until Carmelo Anthony returns from his 15-game suspension. He will be back after three more games. The Nuggets are 4-8 without him.

    J.R. Smith, who recently finished up his 10-game suspension, can't find his shot. He's a combined 9-for-30 from the field in two games since his return. Smith had 11 points against the Rockets.

    "It's just tough right now," Iverson said. "Maybe at the end of the season we'll be laughing about these games right here, especially the ones at home we should have won."

    Game notes

    Najera is the only Nuggets player to have played in all 34 games this season. ... The Rockets are 8-2 since losing Yao Ming to a fractured right leg on Dec. 17 against the Los Angeles Clippers. ... The Rockets are holding teams to a league-leading 89.1 points a game. ... Dikembe Mutombo had four blocked shots and 10 rebounds against his former team.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 90 86
    FGM-FGA 32-75 (.427) 32-92 (.348)
    3PM-3PA 10-25 (.400) 9-28 (.321)
    FTM-FTA 16-28 (.571) 13-17 (.765)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 4-41 13-51
    Assists 24 17
    Turnovers 11 13
    Steals 8 5
    Blocks 4 5
    Fast Break Points 12 11
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 16 (4/0) 20 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 9 6

    Top Performers

    Shane Battier Battier
    Points: 25
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0
    Allen Iverson Iverson
    Points: 28
    Reb: 4
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 1