No matter how things played out on Tuesday in Miami, it was a pretty safe bet that if the Rockets emerged from the game still undefeated, it would be their most impressive performance of the season. They beat the previously unbeaten Heat, 108-91, and without a doubt it was the Rockets best work of the season.
James Harden was once again spectacular, turning in a near triple-double performance with 25 points, nine assists and 10 rebounds. Four of those rebounds and three of those 10 dimes came during the final six minutes of the fourth quarter as the Rockets closed out their fifth consecutive double-figure victory to open up the 2014-15 season.
Dwight Howard added his fourth double-double of the season with game-highs of 26 points and 10 rebounds. He put the Rockets on his back in the fourth quarter with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting.
Once again the Rockets long-range shooting continues to be blindingly good. They made 17 more 3-pointers on 37 attempts, connecting at a 45.9 percent clip. Trevor Ariza continued his blazing start making 5-of-8 attempts, scoring 19 points. He’s now 21-35 (55 percent) on the season on 3-pointers.
Houston has made at least 12 3-pointers in each of their five games and the 71 3-pointers overall is the most in NBA history in the first five games of a season.
After a tight first half that has neither team take a lead of more than seven points, the Rockets took just a two point 57-55 lead to the second half. Miami tied the game briefly at 59, before Houston went on an 18-5 run to push their advantage to 13 points. Twice in the fourth quarter the Heat closed to within three of four points. In both cases the Rockets had answers for their charge.
After the Heat closed to 83-80 early in the fourth quarter, Houston went on a 7-0 run holding the Heat scoreless for nearly four minutes. When the Heat again cut the lead down to 90-86 at the seven minute mark, the Rockets called timeout and then put an end to the contest.
Houston scored 13 points over the next 3:56. The Heat scored none. Trevor Ariza buried three of his five 3-pointers during that stretch that put the game away.
Houston played without Terrence Jones, who missed the game with a leg injury, and also without Tarik Black, who missed his second straight game with a thigh bruise.
Houston (5-0) hosts San Antonio (1-1) on Thursday night.