Miami Heat overcome Rockets challenge

Harden, who had six turnovers, had added 12 rebounds and 10 assists for his 13th triple-double of the season.

By   |   Published: 19th Jan 2017   8:17 am
Miami Heat
Chicago Bulls' Dwyane Wade, right, elbows Dallas Mavericks' Devin Harris on the chin during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, in Chicago. The Mavericks won 99-98. Photo: AP Photo

Miami: The Miami Heat withstood Houston star James Harden’s 40-point triple-double on Tuesday to upend the Rockets 109-103 and snap a four-game NBA losing streak.

Harden, who had six turnovers, had added 12 rebounds and 10 assists for his 13th triple-double of the season.

He made 12 of his 30 shots, including four of 15 from three-point range. “At least it wasn’t 60,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra quipped of Harden’s gaudy points total.

“All you can do is make him earn it and take away some of the easy ones,” Spoelstra said. “He is as offensively skilled as any player in this league. It is tough to rattle him.”

But the Heat, who own the second-worst record in the NBA at 12-30, managed to prevail against Harden and the prolific Rockets offense, which ranks second in the league in points scored. With Ryan Anderson out for the Rockets and Eric Gordon connecting on just three of 17 off Houston’s bench, the Heat were able to withstand an effort from Harden that included 12 of 13 from the free throw line.

Heat point guard Goran Dragic scored 21 points, pulled down eight rebounds and handed out eight assists and the Heat’s 20-3 scoring run in the fourth quarter put the game away. It was touch-and-go for awhile in the final period, however.

Rodney McGruder’s layup with 8:36 to play put the Heat up 88-83. But Harden’s driving layup with 7:05 to play put Houston back on top 89-88.

After two baskets from Tyler Johnson gave the Heat a 94-89 lead, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni was whistled for a technical foul for arguing a call against Harden. Miami’s Wayle Ellington converted the technical free throw, Dragic scored and Ellington made a three-pointer as the Heat stretched their lead to as high as 14 points.

Ellington finished with 18 points off the bench for Miami. Tyler Johnson added 16, James Johnson scored 15 and Hassan Whiteside had 14 points and 15 rebounds.