Paul strains hamstring
MIAMI (AP) – The plan for the Miami Heat on the game’s final play was simple: Do not let James Harden win the game for Houston.
Dwyane Wade and the Heat pulled it off.
Wade ran at Harden and got him to give the ball up as the clock ran down, Eric Gordon missed a 3-pointer – one that Wade said he tipped ever so slightly – as time expired, and the Heat held off the Rockets 101-99 on Thursday night for their first three-game winning streak of the season.
“If somebody else hit it, we would deal with it,” Wade said. “But it wasn’t going to be James Harden.”
Harden scored 35 for the Rockets, whose five-game winning streak was snapped. The worst part of the night for Houston, however, will likely be the loss of point guard Chris Paul in the second quarter to a strained left hamstring.
All the Rockets know, for now, is that Paul will miss time. He will undergo an MRI on Friday to determine the severity and likely timetable for returning.
“We lose a guy of the magnitude of Chris, now we’re fighting again,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “And the flaws that we have are going to come out again and we’ve got to overcome those.”
Josh Richardson scored 22 points and Tyler Johnson added 19 for the Heat, who were up by 16 early, then wasted an 11-point lead in the fourth before rallying.
Gordon’s 3-pointer with 37 seconds left got Houston within two, and the Rockets got a stop on a long ensuing Heat possession. Wade missed, Hassan Whiteside got the offensive rebound and Wade wound up missing again, with the Rockets finally corralling the ball with 3.8 seconds left.
The last play eventually went to Gordon, and his 3 – Houston’s 54th attempt of the night from beyond the arc – was off, and Miami escaped. The Heat are 4-4 this season when shooting under 40 percent; the rest of the NBA, combined, is 9-103 in such games.
“Our identity is trying to make it ugly,” Tyler Johnson said. “A lot of teams aren’t used to that.”
Derrick Jones Jr. scored 15 for Miami, which got 11 from James Johnson and 10 from Wade. Gordon scored 20 for the Rockets, who got 14 from PJ Tucker and 10 from Danuel House Jr.
The Rockets set an NBA record with 26 makes from 3-point range in Washington on Wednesday, and connected on another 18 in this one. The 44 made 3s in a two-game span are second-most in NBA history over such a stretch – Houston made 46 in a two-game stretch of the 2016-17 season – and are the most ever posted in consecutive days.