James Harden and Chris Paul controlled the action late, and the Houston Rockets turned stifling defense down the stretch into a 99-90 win over the Miami Heat on Monday at Toyota Center.
Harden drilled a 3-pointer with just over three minutes remaining to snap an 88-88 tie and added a step-back baseline jumper less than a minute later to help Houston reclaim its three-point lead. With 38.8 seconds remaining, Paul nailed a midrange jumper over Josh Richardson to seal the win, with Houston erasing a 14-point deficit to sweep its three-game homestand.
Harden finished with 28 points and five assists while Paul scored half of his 16 points in the fourth quarter. Paul added six rebounds and six assists plus three steals to carry Houston home.
Eric Gordon scored 16 points off the bench for Houston but finished 0-for-7 on 3s after going 0-for-9 in a win over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday. The Rockets have won six of seven.
Hassan Whiteside paced the Heat with 22 points, 13 rebounds and three steals. But with 28 seconds left and the Rockets leading by five, Whiteside had his second-chance shot attempt blocked by Harden, with Houston turning that defensive play into an easy transition basket.
Wayne Ellington added 13 points for Miami but missed 8 of 11 3-pointers. Richardson chipped in 12 points while James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk tallied 10 points apiece for the Heat. After a scorching start, Miami shot just 39.3 percent (24 of 61) following its 33-point first quarter. The Heat dominated in the paint with a 56-34 edge on interior points but missed 23 of 30 3s.
Brilliant execution set the table for Miami to surge to a 26-12 lead in the first quarter, with the Heat recording seven assists on nine baskets while Whiteside dominated his matchup with Rockets center Clint Capela. Whiteside was 6-for-6 before Capela gave way to Nene. Offensively, Harden scored nine consecutive points to get Houston back into contention.
--Field Level Media