HOUSTON (AP) – James Harden scored 28 points, Dwight Howard added 23 and the Houston Rockets rolled to a 115-79 win over the Miami Heat on Saturday night, rebounding quite nicely from their most lopsided loss of the season.
Coach Kevin McHale said his team was “terrible” in a 11-83 loss at New Orleans on Friday night. But the Rockets used a 19-point second quarter from Howard to build a double-digit lead against Miami, and then put together a big run in the third before coasting to their biggest win of the season.
Houston’s starters were benched early in the third quarter against New Orleans by a disgusted McHale. On Saturday night, they spent the fourth quarter on the bench with the Rockets leading by 34 after three.
Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh scored 15 apiece for Miami, which has lost four in a row.
Josh Smith, who signed with Houston on Dec. 26, was used as a reserve after starting the previous four games and Donatas Motiejunas started in his place. Smith brought the crowd to its feet with a one-handed dunk that made it 88-60 late in the third quarter.
Jason Terry and Corey Brewer made back-to-back 3s to give Houston a 94-60 lead entering the fourth. The Rockets outscored Miami 33-11 in the third.
Trevor Ariza led Houston’s defense with six steals, tying a career high.
The Rockets opened the third quarter with an 18-4 run to build a 79-53 lead. Howard scored the first four points of the half before Harden chipped in with six straight points.
The Heat were up by four early in the second quarter when Houston used a 13-0 run to a take a 38-29 lead 8 1/2 minutes before halftime. Howard had eight points in that key span and Brewer added a 3-pointer.
Howard’s big second quarter was highlighted by a play when he simply slapped the ball into the basket with one hand after a missed shot by Harden. He was fouled on the basket and made the free throw to extend Houston’s lead to 57-49 with less than two minutes left in the period.
Heat: It was the 11th straight game where Wade either led or tied for the team lead in scoring, his longest such stretch since an 11-game run in 2010. … Justin Hamilton missed the game in his recovery from a concussion.
Rockets: Terrence Jones (left leg nerve inflammation) and Alexey Shved (left ankle sprain) remain out. … Houston assigned Nick Johnson to its D-League affiliate.
Heat: Host Brooklyn on Sunday.
Rockets: Visit Chicago on Monday.
(© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
[display-posts category=”heat” wrapper=”ul” posts_per_page=”5″]