Denver Coach Doug Moe left Thursday night's game at halftime with the flu, allowing assistant Allan Bristow to preside over the Nuggets' game-breaking rally following the intermission.
"We got some easy shots in the third period," Bristow said after the Nuggets' 126-113 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers at Denver. "I wish I could take credit (for the victory). But we were really on automatic pilot tonight."
Alex English scored 14 of his 24 points in the third period, hitting 6 of 7 shots. The Nuggets as a team shot 62% in that period and outscored the Trail Blazers, 36-23, to break a 59-59 tie.
Fat Lever and Calvin Natt, both former Trail Blazers, led the Nuggets with 26 points each, and Danny Schayes came off the Denver bench to score 19.
Denver improved to 3-1 with the victory. Portland, which lost for the 10th straight time at Denver, fell to 2-2.
Clyde Drexler led the Trail Blazers with 26 points. Kiki Vandeweghe scored 25 points, and Steve Johnson added 23.
San Antonio 123, Seattle 118--Guard Johnny Dawkins won the starting spot earlier this season with the Spurs, and after the victory at San Antonio, his teammates knew why.
Dawkins tied his career-high total with 28 points, Walter Berry added 23, and guard Alvin Robertson had 20, including 10 in the final period, as the Spurs held off a late Sonic rally. Dawkins also hit a midcourt shot at the end of the first quarter.
"J.D. is really pushing the ball up the court for us," Robertson said. "He's playing with more authority. He knows that he belongs in this league and what he can do."
Dawkins had 15 points in the second half, and Robertson scored 6 of the last 8 points.
For Seattle, forward Xavier McDaniel scored 23 points, and guard Dale Ellis had 19.
Houston 116, Sacramento 114--World B. Free scored 19 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter, and reserve forward Richard Anderson made two foul shots with 10 seconds remaining to give the Rockets the win at Sacramento.
Anderson's free throws put Houston ahead, 115-114. Sacramento's Reggie Theus then missed a 15-foot jump shot with three seconds remaining, and Houston's Andre Turner got the rebound, was fouled and made a free throw with one second left.
Theus was high scorer for the Kings with 34 points. Houston's Ralph Sampson scored 31, and Akeem Olajuwon had 18 points and 10 rebounds.