By the time the Rockets noticed that Denver was blowing them off the floor, the mystery was not how the Nuggets did it. The Nuggets were playing harder, much harder. The question was how the Rockets managed not to pick up on that before there were just three minutes left and they had sleep-walked their way from a 17-point halftime lead to a 14-point second-half hole.

Sure, the Rockets were asleep to start the game, too. But they were terrific in the second quarter, hitting the boards, forcing turnovers, scoring more than they have in the second quarter in franchise history and seemed to have called it a night.

Finally, when the Rockets got around to playing with energy and desperation for the final three minutes, they rallied all the way back through a suddenly frantic comeback to force overtime, and then surged past the Nuggets, 130-125.

James Harden drained a 3-pointer with 7.1 seconds left in regulation to tie the game, launching quickly in case the Nuggets had planned to foul to send him to the line for two free throws. He then switched on to Randy Foye on the last possession, forcing an off-balance jumper that fell well short, sending the game in overtime.

Once given another chance, the Rockets took control the way they took the game to overtime, from beyond the arc. Francisco Garcia nailed a corner 3 before Chandler Parsons, who had been 0 for 8 from beyond the arc, hit two more treys, giving the Rockets a 130-122 lead with 1:54 remaining.

Harden finished with 32 points and 10 assists while Omer Asik had a season-high 18 points and matched his career-high – set on Tuesday – with 23 rebounds. Jeremy Lin, who helped key the Rockets late run by forcing consecutive Aaron Brooks turnovers, added 19 points. In his first game back in Houston since dealt to Denver at the trade deadline, Brooks had 24 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds, but did not have a point or assist in overtime.