The Miami Heat and the Houston Rockets entered this contest with history in Miami’s favor. The Heat had won the last five matchups between the two squads, and they were averaging 112.2 points during that stretch. The Rockets are a much different team this year, but that didn’t change the fact that Miami came out on top in a 113-110 victory.
Early in the first quarter, all the momentum belonged to the Heat. Houston missed 12 of their first 14 shots, they couldn’t contain Miami in transition and they went down 20-5 just halfway through the first quarter. The momentum would switch by the end of the period, as Houston finished on a 14-3 run to bring it within six points.
The Rockets may have finished the first period strong, but the Heat were back to playing fast and efficient basketball at the start of the second. They jumped out to another double-digit lead, but the Rockets came back and cut Miami’s lead down to two by the end of the first half.
The third quarter saw LeBron James finally get involved in the scoring department, but like the rest of the contest, it remained competitive on both ends. The Rockets and the Heat began trading leads, and while the defenses didn't disappear all together, it was the first stretch where both offenses were finally clicking at the same time.
The final period saw Houston pull ahead early. They started out the quarter hot, as they were making offensive plays off of defensive stops. However, James and the Heat regained control, taking a one-point lead with less than 20 seconds remaining. Jeremy Lin had a chance to hit the go-ahead bucket late in the contest, but he air-balled the three-pointer that would have given the Rockets the lead.
For a game that looked like it was going to be in garbage time early, this one proved to be hard-fought from both sides. The Heat pulled out the win, but Houston made this one interesting almost the entire way through.
Mario Chalmers, PG, Miami : C
Mario Chalmers rarely stands out for his exceptional play while on the same roster as the Big Three. This game proved to be no exception, but at least the point guard didn't make any crucial mistakes that took away from the team's victory.
In the past, Chalmers has become somewhat of a scapegoat when things don't go well. In this game, Chalmers was quiet but helped affect the game in areas other than points.
Jeremy Lin, PG, Houston: C+
Jeremy Lin may not have had a spectacular game when it comes to the stat sheet, but he was making the smart plays that helped Houston get back into the contest after falling behind early.
Heading into halftime, Lin had just five points and three assists with two turnovers. Those numbers wouldn't ever jump too drastically, but he helped push the tempo when momentum finally carried over to the Rockets.
Lin finished the game with nine points on 3-of-8 shooting, and he had six assists in 34 minutes of play. Unfortunately for the point guard, he'll likely be remembered in this one for the botched opportunity to take the lead late in the contest.
Dwyane Wade, SG, Miami: B
Dwyane Wade entered this game following his worst shooting performance of the young season. He was just 3-of-15 with eight points against the Memphis Grizzlies, and he was looking for a bounce-back game against the Houston Rockets.
It looked as if Wade was going to have that success in the first half. He seemingly took over the game, particularly in the second quarter, and was one of the most aggressive players early. If Wade had performed as brilliantly in the second half, his grade would be much higer; but LeBron james made sure that the second half belonged to him, and nobody else.
Wade finished with 19 points, seven assists and six rebounds, doing his damage at the rim and in the mid-range game, which shouldn’t surprise anybody who has watched the physical 2-guard play throughout the years.
James Harden, SG, Houston : B
The last time James Harden faced off against the Miami Heat was in the 2012 NBA Finals, where he struggled mightily with his shot and was held to just 12.4 points per game in the series. This time around, he scored 22 points and was the reason the Rockets remained in this game early.
Harden missed his first couple of shots but was able to get to the free-throw line, where he slowly gathered momentum. He finished the first quarter with a buzzer-beating three-pointer, which gave him 10 points at the time.
Even when Houston was struggling Harden’s aggression was never in question. His European Two-Step was on full display throughout the game, ending with eight free throws in the first half and 11 by the end of the game.
Harden saw double teams throughout the entire contest, which drastically took away from his efficiency. He finished just 6-of-17 from the field, and 1-of-6 from behind the arc.
LeBron James, SF, Miami : A+
LeBron James came into this game looking to be a distributor, which was just fine with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, who were scoring at a high rate early. James was just 2-of-6 in the first half and entered the third quarter with six points, four rebounds and four assists.
The second half, however, saw James come out and look to make a difference in the points column. He scored the team’s first 10 points of the third quarter, and he had 22 points by the time the fourth quarter was underway.
The Miami Heat were able to steal this one on the road, and the credit goes to the brilliant play of James in the second half. He finished the contest with 38 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 14-of-26 from the field and 5-of-8 from beyond the arc.
Chandler Parsons, SF, Houston: A
Chandler Parsons played a solid but quiet first half of basketball. His three-point shot was sporadic, but he was playing LeBron James physically and was getting decent looks at the rim.
Parsons broke his silence, though, in the second half, when he began shooting from behind the arc in a much more efficient manner. A couple of timely three-pointers helped the Rockets take a lead in the second half, and more deep-range shooting late in the game helped tip the game in Houston's favor temporarily.
Parsons had a career-high 25 points in this one, and his 5-of-10 shooting from the three was the biggest reason for his excellent production.
Shane Battier, PF, Miami: C
Shane Battier didn't stand out in this contest, but he was quietly efficient. The forward shot 2-of-3 on the game—all of which were from behind the three-point line.
On the defensive end, Battier proved he can still be counted on to pressure the opposing team, as he recorded three blocks and a steal, and rotated well as a part of Miami's scheme to swarm players in the post and in the pick-and-roll.
Battier's game was quiet, and that's typically how the veteran performs at this point in his career.
Patrick Patterson, PF, Houston: B
Patrick Patterson might not be the most physically dominating player in the league, but he was able to play a good game on the block against a slightly smaller Shane Battier.
The Houston Rockets forward was productive in the post, he was in the right place at the right time in loose-ball and long-rebound situations on many occasions, and he played efficiently from mid-range.
On the glass, Patterson was much better than Battier. He pulled down nine rebounds to go along with his 17 points on 8-of-14 shooting.
Chris Bosh, C, Miami: A
Chris Bosh entered this contest as a mismatch against Omer Asik, and before we were even halfway through the first quarter we saw the Miami big man take full advantage.
Bosh was given the 15-to-18-foot jump shot, and he knocked it down with ease early in the contest. When the Rockets finally got a hand in his face, he pump faked, got his man in the air and went right around him for the easiest dunk of the game.
Efficiency was the name of the game for Bosh, as he finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds on 10-of-14 shooting.
Omer Asik, C, Houston : A
Omer Asik was brought in by the Houston Rockets to have an impact in the rebounding game, but he did much, much more in Monday's matchup against the Miami Heat.
On offense, Asik showed off his offensive abilities in the paint, which the league has only seen on rare occasions. The big man didn’t always look to finish strong, which is something he’ll need to learn throughout his career, but he showed that the hidden potential can come out when facing smaller opponents inside. He also finished 11-of-14 from the free-throw line.
Defensively, Asik was solid on the low block, but he showed a lack of discipline when defending smaller opponents out on the perimeter. That won't take away from his performance in this one, though, as he finished with 19 points, 14 rebounds and one block on the night.
Ray Allen, SG, Miami: C
Ray Allen was virtually invisible during the first half. In true Allen fashion, though, his three-point shots in this one were timely, as he helped the Heat regain momentum late. He would finish 3-of-7 from the field, and 2-of-5 from behind the three-point line.
Allen eventually got involved in the offense, but when he finally did, LeBron James had already declared this game his.
Truth be told, it was Udonis Haslem who had the biggest impact off the bench, as he posted 10 points and seven rebounds while shooting 5-of-6 from the field; but Allen is the most important player off this bench, and he has the ability to change a game if needed.
Carlos Delfino, SF, Houston : B-
In 10 first-half minutes, Carlos Delfino's biggest accomplishment was a measly two rebounds. He missed all four of his shots and it wouldn't be until later when he made the Miami Heat aware he was still on the roster.
The second half saw Delfino finally get on the board, and he did it in a big way. Delfino hit his first two three-pointers in the third quarter, and he was a major factor in getting the crowd involved and the offense rolling.
Delfino ended the game with just eight points on just 3-of-7 shooting, but he stepped up big when the team needed it. He was a big part of the reason the Rockets were in it as late as they were.
Miami Heat: C+
In the first half, the Miami Heat got virtually no production off the bench out of anybody not named Udonis Haslem. Ray Allen went 0-for-2 in 10 minutes, Norris Cole missed four of his five shots and Rashard Lewis couldn’t connect on his only two shot attempts.
Haslem, however, came out with a ton of energy, and he recorded six rebounds and eight points on 4-of-5 shooting.
The second half saw Ray Allen get involved, and while it was LeBron James who took the game over, it helped having the bench produce more than one decent performance in this one.
Houston Rockets: C
The Houston bench didn’t make this game easy in the first half for the team’s starters. The second unit didn’t score a single point in the first two quarters, and it looked as if they'd be the primary reason for a Houston loss.
Carlos Delfino was the one who broke the cold streak with his three-pointers in the third, and backup power forward Marcus Morris began to follow suit. Morris finished with eight points and shot efficiently from the three-point line in the second half.
A good second half doesn't erase a goose egg in the first, but it did help this team fight hard against arguably the best team in the entire NBA.