December 21, 2018 / 4:14 AM / in a month

Heat defeat Rockets after Paul's exit

EditorsNote: adds new fourth graf with Paul update

Josh Richardson scored 22 points as the Miami Heat overcame another strong performance by James Harden, defeating the visiting Houston Rockets 101-99 on Thursday night.

Houston’s Eric Gordon missed a 3-point attempt from the left wing with 0.6 seconds left as the Rockets had their five-game winning streak snapped. Gordon finished with 20 points.

Miami, which won its third straight contest, was also led by Tyler Johnson, who scored 19 points despite missing practice on Wednesday due to a severe migraine headache. Heat center Hassan Whiteside added nine points and a game-high 17 rebounds.

Harden, the reigning NBA MVP, contributed 35 points, 12 assists, six rebounds and two steals.

However, Houston’s star point guard, Chris Paul, injured his left hamstring in the second quarter. He went straight to the locker room and did not return, contributing four points and four assists in 12 minutes.

After the game, coach Mike D’Antoni said Paul would undergo an MRI exam Friday and be sidelined indefinitely.

Miami, playing its first game since All-Star point guard Goran Dragic had knee surgery, started Johnson for just the third time this season, and he came up big.

Houston got off to a good start, using a 15-2 run to lead 33-21 after the first quarter. The Rockets outshot Miami in the quarter, 47.6 percent to 30.4 percent. Houston also made three times as many 3-pointers in the period, hitting 6 of 12 one night after sinking an NBA-record 26 treys.

Harden, who had an 11-point first quarter, added nine in the second period. But the Heat, who trailed by as many as 16 points in the quarter, rallied to cut Houston’s lead to 58-53 at halftime.

Miami took its first lead of the game with 7:48 left in the third quarter on a layup by James Johnson. The Heat kept pushing and outscored Houston 29-18 in the third, heading into the fourth with an 82-76 lead.

Miami’s lead stretched to 11 points early in the fourth quarter before Houston made a run.

In the end, though, the Heat, coming off a successful 4-2 road trip, improved to 9-4 against Western Conference teams this season.

—Field Level Media

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