Late collapse in Miami halts Rockets comeback

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Rockets comeback attempt against the Heat was halted late in the fourth quarter. Miami used a 15-0 run on route to a 113-104 victory over Houston. James Harden led Houston with 30 points and Dwight Howard notched another double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Houston is now on its first three-game losing streak of the season.

For the fist time this season the Houston Rockets find themselves in a three-game losing streak. The latest comes at the hands of the Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon. A late game collapse led to the Rockets 104-113 loss in Miami, that the loss came in mid-March is an accomplishment in itself. The matchup was on the national stage and the Rockets impress, weathering the storm and clawing their way back into the game — but to no avail.

Here are three thoughts on the game:

  • Offense stalls late in game — Patrick Beverley swished a three-pointer with 4:26 left in the game. The shot gave the Rockets a 102-98 lead. It would end up being the only Rockets points until two Beverley free throws with 6.4 seconds on the game clock. 
    The next four minutes of offensive possesion resulted in a Chandler Parsons turnaround jumper to beat the shot clock, two rushed three-pointers, one from Beverley another from Jeremy Lin, a missed James Harden layup followed by a Harden missed three. Each shot was the result of no ball movement, stagnant players and no offensive flow in the half-court game. Sound familiar? It's been the Rockets mantra when teams don't play to the Rockets tempo.
  • Officiating — I might get flack for this thought or be called a homer but as a basketball fan I was distraught at the officiating in this game. There are two specific calls that standout as game-changers. The first came immediately following Beverley's three pointer with 4:56 in the fourth quarter.
    As the ball fell through the hoop, it bounced to Howard who tipped it over to the ref. The referee immediately blew his whistle for a delay of game. If Howard had not touced the ball it would have bounced in the opposite direction. A free-throw was awarded to Miami, which Ray Allen swished. The delay of game stopped the momentum the Rockets had and it slowed the tempo of the game in Miami's favor. 
    The next call came on a Lebron James dunk attempt which Beverley denied with a great foul and block. It was a physical collision by both players. But for some reason, the referres opted to look it over and over and over. The viewing resulted in a technical on Beverley when replays clearly showed a regular foul. 
    These bad calls — along with two missed offensive fouls on James — only played a part in the loss. The Rockets had a chance late but came short.
  • Wanted: Bench scoring — Of the 104 points, 87 of them were scored by the starters. Jeremey Lin, Jordan Hamilton, Omer Asik, Donatas Motiejuenas combined for 17 points. Miami's bench got a huge bench boost of 41 points. It may be too early to think about the offseason but Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey should entertaing the idea of bolstering the Rockets bench. Lin is too inconsistent for the Rockets to rely on.
No player grades today, but here are some bounus thoughts:
  • Chandler Parsons importance — The third-year Flordia man was missing in action today. He had some nice defensive moments but for the most part he — and Rockets fans — would like to forget about this one. I'm not breaking news by saying that Parsons is immensely important to the Rockets offense. His slashing and cutting ability opens pockets of space for shooters. His shooting abilitiy creates lanes for Harden, and others. The Rockets needed that today, in fact, Houston needed it in Thursday loss to the Chicago Bulls as well. This is now back-to-back subpar performances for Parsons. He'll have an easier matchup Monday night against the Jazz to get his act together.
  • Seven game stretch — The Rockets went 4-3 in the tough seven game stretch that was bookend by the Heat. Houston got victories against the Heat, the Trailblazers, the Pacers and the Magic. It lost to the Thunder, the Bulls and the Heat. The stretch run was both good and bad. Plenty of good gifs. surfaced from the stretch and I would argue that the best came from today's game. I'm sure a Dreamer will post it in the comments soon enough. It involves Beverley crossing James and throwing down a flush dunk on Chris Bosh and a trailing Chris Anderson. Google it and enjoy if you can't wait for the gif.
What did you think of the game and the seven-game stretch Houston just played? And how would you grade the player's performances tonight.

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