HOUSTON — Jalen Green scored 32 points, six others scored in double figures and the last-place Houston Rockets prevented the Denver Nuggets from clinching the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference with a 124-103 victory in their home finale on Tuesday night.
Denver entered Tuesday three games ahead of Memphis for the top spot in the Western Conference with four games remaining for both teams. At 19-60 entering Tuesday, the Rockets stood 33 1/2 games behind Denver’s 52-26 record.
But none of that mattered to the upstart Rockets, hoping to end a rocky season on a positive note.
Denver had a sluggish start to the fourth quarter, making just one field goal in the first five minutes. Houston went on a 16-4 run in that stretch.
Running away with the game late, the young Rockets went on a dunking spree, firing up the Toyota Center crowd for the home finale. After the fourth dunk of the quarter, a thunderous, two-handed windmill dunk in transition from Tari Eason, Nuggets coach Michael Malone called timeout with 5:33 remaining in the game and pulled his starters.
The Rockets outscored the Nuggets 38-18 in the fourth quarter.
Alperen Sengun had 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, Kevin Porter Jr. had 20 points and nine assists, and Jabari Smith Jr. had 16 points and 13 rebounds. Eason added 11 points off the bench for Houston.
Michael Porter Jr. led Denver with 23 points, and Nikola Jokic had 14 points and 10 rebounds in 25 minutes. Jokic also added a sloppy eight turnovers and went 7 for 13 from the field. Aaron Gordon added 13 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.
Nuggets guard Jamal Murray left the game early in the second quarter with a right thumb sprain. He entered the game listed as “questionable” with the same injury and was ruled out late in the third quarter. In nine minutes, he had two points and four assists.
The Rockets entered the fourth quarter with an 86-85 lead after outscoring Denver 30-26 in the third.
Denver led 59-56 at halftime.
With the Rockets finishing the last two games of the season on the road, Houston finished the season 14-27 at home.
Denver had won the previous 10 meetings.
Nuggets: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had a team-low 23 points in the plus-minus category and Jokic was at -21. … PF Zeke Nnaji missed a second straight game with a right knee sprain.
Rockets: F Jae’Sean Tate remained out with left knee soreness.
Nuggets: Visit Phoenix on Thursday night.
Rockets: Finish the season with a road trip to Charlotte and Washington on Friday and Sunday, respectively.
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