For 10 games spread over nearly three weeks, Donatas Motiejunas suffered. He rarely left the bench, and then only briefly. Watching brought agony.

“Every game,” he said Saturday afternoon, “is killing me.”

Motiejunas promised himself that when his chance came again, he would be ready. So when center Omer Asik moped his way out of the Rockets’ rotation, going in less than a week from starting center to, as coach Kevin McHale put it, “not available,” Motiejunas had his chance. More than that, with Dwight Howard in foul trouble and Greg Smith injured, the Rockets had a void for Motiejunas to fill in the first half, Terrence Jones in the second.

They not only filled it, helping the Rockets to a start-to-finish 122-111 win over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday at Toyota Center, they offered hope in the continuing search for a solution at power forward. They also won rave reviews.

“I am just so proud of both of those guys,” Howard said. “I see the work they put in every day … after practice, before practice and just to have the opportunity to get out and play and play well. I am just so happy to see that. There are a lot of guys when they don’t get a chance to play, they kind of sit in the corner. They don’t’ talk, they don’t work. Then when they get in the game, they aren’t ready. But both of those guys came in right away and made plays on the offensive end, on the defensive end and made plays.”

Chance to start

After rarely playing as a rookie or in the first seven games this season, Jones has moved into the rotation, starting the past three games. Motiejunas, who did briefly start last season, has rarely played this season, getting nine minutes in two games before Saturday and suffering with every DNP.

“It is hard to be patient, especially if you love basketball,” Motiejunas said before he learned he would be in the frontcourt rotation. “It’s hard to sit on the bench and you do everything it takes to get on the court.”

When he got his chance, he took off. He was 5-of-6 in the first half, scoring on everything from a corner 3 to a low-post jump hook that would have made his training camp instructor, Hakeem Olajuwon proud. His 12 points easily surpassed his previous season high of one.

“It’s like driving a bike,” Motiejunas said. “It is just a game. My father used to say that: ‘It’s just a game. Play it. Don’t try to force it.’ ”

Along came Jones

Jones took it from there in the second half, particularly after Denver trimmed a 23-point lead to seven. Jones blocked a Randy Foye drive, grabbed the rebound and passed to Chandler Parsons for a breakaway jam. After a Pat Beverley 3-pointer, Jones finished a break and the Rockets were rolling.