HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden scored 26 points and tied a career-high with 14 assists as the Houston Rockets snapped a three-game skid with a 115-102 win over the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.
Houston had a double-digit lead for most of the second half and was up by 10 when Josh Smith scored all of the team’s points in a 7-2 run that pushed the advantage to 104-89 with about five minutes remaining.
The Rockets started Smith, a 6-foot-9 forward, at center with Dwight Howard serving a one-game suspension for making contact with an official this weekend and Clint Capela out with a thigh injury.
Smith scored a season-high 19 points in his second start this season and first since returning to Houston in a trade from the Clippers on Jan. 22.
Luol Deng had 17 points for the Heat whose season-high four game winning streak ended.
The Rockets were up by seven entering the fourth quarter and scored the first six points of the period to make it 93-80 with about 10 1/2 minutes remaining.
A 3-pointer by Harden with just over three minutes remaining made it 110-93 and sent all Houston’s starters to the bench.
Houston led by 14 early in the third quarter before Miami used a 15-3 run to cut the lead to 74-72 with about five minutes left in the period. Dwyane Wade made four points in the span and the Heat made three consecutive 3-pointers to cap that run with two from Deng and one from Justise Winslow.
The Rockets got back on track after that, using a 9-2 spurt to extend the lead to 83-74 with 2 1/2 minutes left in the quarter.
Patrick Beverley and Marcus Thornton made 3s to get that run going and Terrence Jones finished it with a dunk after a no-look bounce pass from Harden.
The Rockets scored the final five points of the first half and the first eight points of the second half to turn a tie game into a 68-55 lead with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.
Trevor Ariza started the third-quarter run with a 3-pointer and Smith scored the next five points.
Deng made a basket for the Heat before Smith sunk another 3-pointer to push Houston’s advantage to 71-57.
Harden made the last five points of the second quarter to give Houston a 60-55 lead at halftime.
Heat: G Tyler Johnson missed his third straight game with a strained left shoulder. … Wade scored 16 points. … Amare Stoudemire had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Rockets: Coach J.B. Bickerstaff was fined $10,000 Tuesday for public criticism of the officiating after Saturday’s game against Washington. … Rookie F Montrezl Harrell sat out with an illness. …Thornton scored 18 points.
Heat: Visit Dallas on Wednesday.
Rockets: Visit Phoenix on Thursday.
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