It looked as if the Houston Rockets were going to suffer another one of those disheartening losses to an under .500 team. It was the second half, they were down double digits, and the defense couldn’t stop a thing.
After falling behind by 21, The Beard turned on the afterburners, finishing with 58 points, 7 rebounds, 10 assists, and 4 steals, and he shot 16-32 from the field, 8-18 from three, and a perfect 18-18 from the free throw line to lead the Rockets to a come-from-behind 121-118 victory over the Miami Heat.
The Rockets also got 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists from Chris Paul, and though he was just 4-12 from the field and 1-6 from deep, he hit a mid-range dagger with time running down to help close out the win for the Rockets.
This was Houston’s fourth win in a row, but for a while, it appeared they were going to get blown out. The defense was sluggish and a step slow most of the night, giving up 118 points on 51 percent from the field, 15-28 from deep, and 46 points in the paint, including 32 in the first half alone. But they were able to put the clamps on when it mattered, holding Miami to just 20 points in the fourth quarter. Combine that with MVBeard’s supernova, and you got another win for the good guys in red despite being shorthanded. Eric Gordon, Kenneth Faried, and Iman Shumpert all missed tonight’s game with injury.
In addition to Harden and CP3, the Rockets also got 14 points and 5 rebounds from spot starter Gary Clark. He hit also hit three triples, and it was nice to see the rook step up in time of need. Austin Rivers also made a major impact, hitting on 7-8 from the field for 17 points, including 3 threes. The Rockets were 19-46 from deep as a team.
The Heat were led by Kelly Olynyk and Goran Dragic who had 21 apiece, as the Heat had seven players finish in double figures, including all five starters. Justise Winslow had 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists, Josh Richardson had 18, Dwyane Wade had 12, Dion Waiters had 11, and Bam Adebayo finished with 10, but they were still no match for Harden’s heroics.
The Rockets now move to 37-25 on the season and are now just 1.5 games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Portland Trail Blazers, who are tied for third in the Western Conference standings. Houston is now off until Sunday, when they travel to Boston to take on the Celtics in a nationally televised contest on ABC.
The Beard will be looking for another feather in his MVP cap, this time in front of a massive audience.