Chris Paul seeing minutes increase will help Houston Rockets cover against Denver Nuggets

Friday, February 1 at 10:00 PM ET

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Coverage: ESPN

The Houston Rockets visit the Denver Nuggets in a potential playoff preview on Friday night and Chris Paul's playing time will increase after being limited to 25 minutes and 26 minutes in his first two games back from a hamstring injury. "It's crucial to have him in there in the fourth quarter," Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni said after Tuesday's 121-116 loss against the Pelicans.

Paul had 10 points and nine assists and James Harden extended his streak of 30-point games to 24 and had 11 rebounds, six assists and four steals but he was just 11-for-32 overall and 6-for-18 from 3-point range. The Pelicans used a 13-5 run in the third quarter to get within 83-81 with about four minutes left in the quarter and they eventually won the game behind 27 points and 12 rebounds from Jahlil Okafor.

The Nuggets also played the Pelicans in their last game and they were able to beat them 105-99 on the road last Wednesday. Nikola Jokic finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for his eighth triple-double this season and he also blocked two shots while Malik Beasley scored 22 points and Monte Morris added 20 to help them win their fourth straight game.

NBA Trends:

The Houston Rockets are:

4-1 ATS in their last five Friday games

7-2 ATS in their last nine games against a team with a winning percentage above .600

10-3-1 ATS in their last 14 games against Western Conference opponents

The Denver Nuggets are:

3-7 ATS in their last 10 games against a team with a winning straight up record

2-5 ATS in their last seven games following a straight up win

6-20 ATS in their last 26 games against Southwest Division opponents

1-6 ATS in their last seven games against Western Conference opponents

The Rockets won their first two meetings against the Nuggets this season, 109-99 on November 13 in Denver and 125-113 on January 7 at home, which gives them a nine-game winning streak against them heading into this game.

Denver is the better team, they're playing extremely well and they will come out looking to prove they can beat Houston. The Rockets rely too much on James Harden but Chris Paul playing more minutes, especially in the fourth quarter could help them stay in this game.

NBA Pick: Rockets +4.5 (-110) at Jazz Sports

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