Dwight Howard knows the best way to stop teams from using the ''Hack-a-Howard'' defense is to make his free throws.
On Saturday night, the normally free throw-challenged center did just that.
Howard scored 18 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, including 13 of 19 free throws in a 2 1/2-minute stretch, and the Houston Rockets beat the Denver Nuggets 122-111.
''I just kept telling myself go up there and knock them down, make them pay,'' Howard said.
Chandler Parsons added 20 points for Houston and James Harden had 17 for the Rockets, who never trailed and led by as many as 23. It was a welcome change from several of their recent games when they built big leads only to see them evaporate in the second half.
The Nuggets tried to get back in it with about 5 1/2 minutes left by intentionally fouling the center every time Houston had the ball.
The plan backfired and Howard, who entered the game shooting 49 percent from the line, finished 17 of 24 on free throws. Howard's 24 free ...