HOUSTON — Three Houston starters recorded double-doubles and the Rockets survived a last-second 3-point attempt from Miami forward LeBron James to defeat the Heat 106-103 on Tuesday night at Toyota Center.
Houston center Dwight Howard (22 points, 16 rebounds) provided the defense on James as the clock wound down, forcing an errant shot than enabled the Rockets (41-19) to seal a sixth consecutive home win. Houston improved to 13-0 at home against Eastern Conference foes.
Having trailed the entire night, the Heat finally pulled even at 89-all on a pair of Wade free throws with 7:39 remaining. The teams exchanged four baskets until Houston seized control with a 7-0 run that included a Terrence Jones baseline jumper and a three-point play with 5:54 left.
The Heat (43-15) outscored the Rockets 8-2 down the stretch, getting a Michael Beasley (24 points) trey with 21.2 seconds left to cut the deficit to three. Following a Houston turnover, Miami mustered one last shot but James missed. James finished with 22 points — zero in the fourth.
Jones added 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Rockets while guard James Harden had 21 points and 11 assists. Guard Patrick Beverley provided several timely jumpers for Houston and added 19 points.
Guard Dwyane Wade chipped in 24 points and six assists for the Heat.
The Rockets were spirited from the opening tip, scoring the first seven points of the contest and extending to a 17-8 lead when Beverley drilled his third three of the first quarter at the 7:55 mark of the period. Houston led 26-18 just past the midpoint of the first before the Heat rallied with transition baskets, scoring 11 fast-break points in the first.
But after their starters built a nine-point lead in the first quarter, the Rockets’ bench surrendered almost all of the advantage in the season. Miami scored six consecutive points to open the period and, with the Rockets suddenly struggling to avoid turnovers in bunches, the Heat ran their way back to the brink of snatching the lead of the first time.
James and Wade scored the final dozen points of the half for Miami, including a Wade free throw that cut the deficit to 53-52 at the break. Houston made just four baskets in the second, including just one over the final five-plus minutes of the half, and recorded nine turnovers.
NOTES: Despite having played just five minutes Monday night against the Charlotte Bobcats, Heat C Greg Oden was inactive against the Rockets. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said he prefers to avoid playing Oden in back-to-back games and that Oden would be available for the remainder of the three-game road trip. … Spoelstra expressed zero concern about the workload that F LeBron James carried en route to his 61-point performance against the Bobcats, noting that James’ 41 minutes were not at all prohibitive. “He’s in his absolute youth and prime of his career,” Spoelstra said of James. “At this stage of the season, he could probably play over 40 minutes a night every single night.” … Starting with Miami, the Rockets opened a stretch of seven games facing five 40-win teams. “This makes you fine-tune things and it makes you look at things,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “Any time you play a top-tier team, it helps you. We’ve got a period where we’re playing really good teams and I’m looking forward to it.”
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