James Harden ties career-high 14 assists in Rockets’ win over Heat
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 6'9" 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 three-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 three-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 threes 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 three-pointer and Smith scored the next five points.
Deng made a basket for the Heat before Smith sunk another three-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.