Luis Scola added 21 points, Jordan Hill grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds and Chase Budinger scored 17 points for the Rockets, who looked fresh despite playing their third game in three nights.
Joe Johnson and Al Horford scored 15 points apiece for Atlanta.
Former Rocket Tracy McGrady scored 13 points on 6 for 11 shooting. He first entered the game with 3:57 left in the first quarter, and most fans greeted him with boos. McGrady played for the Rockets from 2004-10, a period defined more by injuries to him and Yao Ming than by team success.
LAKERS 92, NUGGETS 89
In Los Angeles, Andrew Bynum had 29 points and 13 rebounds in his season debut following a four-game suspension that carried over from the playoffs, and Los Angeles beat Denver.
Bynum shot 13 for 18, helping the Lakers win their third in a row after the team’s first 0-2 start since 2002-03.
The 7-foot center was suspended without pay for the first four games of the season because of a flagrant foul against Dallas’ J.J. Barea in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals. The original ban was five games, but was reduced on Dec. 23 as a result of a shortened schedule caused by the NBA lockout.
Bynum totaled 41 points and 23 rebounds in two preseason games against the Clippers.
Kobe Bryant, bogged down by foul trouble, had 17 points along with nine assists and 10 rebounds. The Lakers overcame 2 for 24 shooting from 3-point range.
Reserve forward Al Harrington had 21 points for the Nuggets, who have lost 25 of their past 29 road games against the Lakers.
PISTONS 96, PACERS 88
In Auburn Hills, Mich., Jonas Jerebko had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and Detroit ended coach Lawrence Frank’s 20-game losing streak.
Frank hadn’t won a game since April 13, 2009, when his Nets beat the Charlotte Bobcats. The Nets lost their final game that season, and Frank was fired after New Jersey got off to a 0-16 start the next fall. He also lost his first three games with the Pistons since replacing John Kuester during the off-season.