Houston, TX -- Emmanuel Mudiay shot 6-13 with 17 points and 11 assists to help lead the Denver Nuggets to an opening night win over the Houston Rockets Wednesday night.
Mudiay did have 11 turnovers in the win, and Danilo Gallinari scored 23 points with 8 rebounds. James Harden led the Rockets with 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists, while Dwight Howard sat out with a suspension. Ty Lawson had 12 points and 6 assists.
The Nuggets, although Howard was out, looked great tonight. They are young, hungry, have a quality coach in Michael Malone, and a team that wasn't completely disastrous last season, with a 30-52 record.
"We worked hard enough to come in here and expect to win a game," Denver coach Mike Malone. "This should not come as a shock. Everybody outside of our organization can pick us last if they want, but we feel we have a chance to do something special this year and I think the way we played tonight showed that promise."
James Harden was held to shooting just 6 of 21 from the field and 2 of 13 from three.
"They shot it much better than we did," Houston coach Kevin McHale said. "They moved it better than we did. They executed better than we did. They played harder than we did. Really there wasn't anything I could look at in there and say we did better than they did."
Mudiay is going to be a successful player. How successful is unknown, but he is a special talent and an instant impact on the floor. Prior to the season, Mark Kiszla from the Denver Post wrote a paragraph about Mudiay that was on point.
"Let the education of Emmanuel Mudiay begin. At 19 years old, he could be a sophomore in college rather than holding down a job with the Nuggets that pays him a $3.1 million salary. Yes, that's a lot of money, but it definitely won't be easy money. Learning to play point guard in the NBA can be as stressful as any weed-out course on an Ivy League campus, and there will be nights when a rising star crashes and burns. 'You can't let it get to you,' Mudiay told me. What will determine whether Mudiay is indeed the one to lead both the fast break and the downtrodden Nuggets' revival is the toughness of his mind, even more so than the beauty of his passes. For clues to Mudiay's true potential as a franchise player, his body language during bad times will count as much as his stat line in games the rookie tears it up."
Other notables for tonight's game include Denver's Kenneth Faried with 18 points and 9 rebounds, Jameer Nelson with 10 points, and Houston's Terrence Jones with 15 points.
The Denver Nuggets host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, while the Houston Rockets host the Golden State Warriors on Friday.