Rockets move to 5-0, top Heat 108-91
MIAMI (AP) There's no mystery to Houston's game plan. The Rockets shoot a ton of 3-pointers, feed Dwight Howard when the long ball isn't there, and run when they can.
So far, it's been foolproof.
James Harden was one rebound away from a triple-double, Howard scored 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and the Rockets stayed unbeaten by beating the Miami Heat 108-91 on Tuesday night.
''We've started great,'' Howard said. ''We just want to finish great.''
Harden finished with 25 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds for Houston, which has won all five of its games - four on the road - by double digits. And after an offseason filled with questions about why Houston didn't do more, the Rockets have been dominant to start.
''I don't care what anybody thinks,'' Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. ''Why would I care what you've thought? I don't care. I care about what we do in that locker room with our guys.''
Trevor Ariza added 19 points for the Rockets, who used a 13-0 run late in the fourth quarter to pull away. Patrick Beverley scored 15 for Houston.
Chris Bosh scored 21 points for Miami (3-1). Dwyane Wade added 19 for the Heat, with Shawne Williams and Mario Chalmers each scoring 12.
''That's tough at the end,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ''Probably more mental breakdowns than anything else physically going down the stretch. ... You do have to credit them. They don't make it easy. They have a high-octane offense.''
Houston went 17 for 37 from 3-point range and now has 213 points from beyond the arc this season, as opposed to 198 points on 2-pointers.
''You've got the most dominant big man in the league roaming around the rim so somebody has to take him,'' Harden said. ''And then you have tremendous shooters on the wing. It's pretty hard to guard.''
A 17-8 run by the Rockets closed the half and gave Houston a 57-55 lead at intermission. The run continued in the third.
Houston scored 18 points in a 4 1/2-minute stretch that was capped by three 3-pointers in 66 seconds - the last two by Beverley, helping the Rockets turn a tied game into a 77-64 lead.
Miami ripped off 10 straight points to get within 83-80 early in the fourth, and 3s from Justin Hamilton and Shabazz Napier cut Houston's lead to 90-86 with 7 minutes left.
But Ariza hit a 3, Harden laid in his own miss and then Ariza - over the outstretched arm of the 7-foot Bosh - made a high-arcing 3 to put Houston up 12 and in control for good.
''That was huge,'' McHale said.
Rockets: Beverley missed Monday's game in Philadelphia with hamstring pain but showed no ill effects. ... F Donatas Motiejunas started because Terrence Jones (knee) was out. ... The Rockets were one of two teams with four road games in the first eight days, along with Oklahoma City. Houston plays eight of its next 11 at home. ... Harden was 10 for 10 from the line in the first half, doing that for the second time in his last three games.
Heat: It was Miami's 1,000th regular-season loss. ... Miami was without Danny Granger (hamstring), Udonis Haslem (quad) and Chris Andersen (ribs). ... Heat President Pat Riley sat with his former point guard, Magic Johnson. ... Hamilton, who had three 3-pointers in his career entering the night, made three, including two in a 19-second span of the first quarter.
Houston is now 5-0 for the first time since 1996-97, a season when it began with marks of 6-0, 15-1 and 21-2. And the Rockets didn't get their fourth win of 10 points or more on the road last year until Christmas.
Miami allowed a total of 17 3-pointers in its first three games. The Rockets made 17 against the Heat on Tuesday, the eighth time in Miami history an opponent has hit so many.
Rockets: Host San Antonio on Thursday.
Heat: Visit Charlotte on Wednesday.