MIAMI — Ray Allen’s season-high, 25-point performance Sunday afternoon didn’t happen by accident.
The Miami Heat reserve guard worked hard to make it occur.
“He probably took 1,000 shots yesterday (in practice),” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “That’s leadership. He came in there and sweated to make it better.”
Allen’s perspiration and determination led to fourth-quarter domination.
He scored 14 points in that period to help the slumping Heat break out of its malaise — at least for one game — with a 113-104 win over the Houston Rockets at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Allen finished with excellent shooting numbers: 7-for-11 from the floor, 4-for-6 on 3-pointers and 7-for-7 from the foul line.
Miami closed the game on a 15-2 run, frustrating Rockets coach Kevin McHale.
“We had a five-point lead (late in the game), but we didn’t cover Ray on an out-of-bounds play,” McHale said of Allen’s corner 3-pointer. “We substituted to go small, but I don’t even know what we did.
“We didn’t play very well down the stretch. I have no idea what happened.”
Allen was asked how he got open on his key 3-pointer.
“It’s 18 years for me now (in the NBA),” he said. “I never know how I get open, but when I do, I have to be ready to shoot.”
The Heat, who entered Sunday having lost five of six games, also got 24 points each from forward LeBron James and guard Dwyane Wade. Forward Chris Bosh added 18 points and eight rebounds, and Wade led the team with seven assists.
Houston guard James Harden scored a game-high 30 points. He made seven of 16 shots from the floor, including five of 12 3-point attempts, and he converted 11 of 12 from the foul line.
Still, Harden said he was not satisfied.
“I missed a couple of layups and open 3s,” he said. “They got a couple of easy points, and that kind of stopped us right there.”
Rockets center Dwight Howard had 21 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots. It was his third double-double in a row and his 45th in 66 games.
He, too, was disappointed in how the game finished.
“We got stagnant and stopped doing what was working in the first three quarters,” Howard said of the Rockets’ offense. “We stopped moving the ball. We took some tough shots instead of just moving the ball.”
The Rockets (44-22) also got 15 points and a game-high four steals from guard Patrick Beverley.
Miami (45-19) trails the Indiana Pacers by two games in the loss column in the battle for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Houston, which lost its third consecutive game, is in fourth place in the Western Conference.
The Heat never trailed in the first half despite allowing Houston to shoot 73.3 percent from the floor in the first quarter.
Miami led 32-28 after a first quarter in which James had 11 points and the team shot 50 percent from the field. Normally a weak rebounding team, the Heat had five offensive rebounds compared with none for the Rockets.
The Heat led 57-54 at halftime. They were up by as many as 11 points in the second quarter before the Rockets rallied.
Houston’s shooting cooled off in the second quarter, when it made 42.9 percent from the field, but the Rockets did a better job on the boards, grabbing five offensive rebounds to one for Miami.
Houston took its first lead of the game in the third quarter and was up 81-79 heading into the fourth.
The Rockets wound up hitting 49.3 percent of their shots, while Miami made 51.3 percent.
NOTES: Heat C Greg Oden made his second start of the season, and he finished with no points and six rebounds in 12 minutes. … Rockets F Chandler Parsons drew the ultimate praise from Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. “He’s a little bit position-less,” said Spoelstra, whose team is based on that versatility. “He’s an X-factor guy because he can shoot it, he can get you off the dribble, and he is great off the ball on his cuts.” … New York Daily News writer Frank Isola claims to have an anonymous source in the camp of Heat F LeBron James. That source, Isola wrote, believes James will look at the New York Knicks as a free agent this summer now that they hired Phil Jackson to run the franchise. … Next up, the Heat go on a two-game road trip — Tuesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Wednesday against the Boston Celtics. … The Rockets return home to play the Utah Jazz on Monday and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday.
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