Houston Rockets vs. Miami Heat: Postgame Grades and Analysis

Bryan Toporek@@btoporekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 7, 2013

Houston Rockets vs. Miami Heat: Postgame Grades and Analysis

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    In a matchup of two of the NBA's most efficient offenses on Wednesday night, the Miami Heat emerged with a 114-108 victory over the Houston Rockets.

    One night after tying an NBA record with 23 three-pointers, the Rockets went cold from deep in South Beach. Houston only rattled home nine of its 25 attempts from deep against the Heat, a 36 percent clip.

    Miami finished the first half on a 20-6 run, with Dwyane Wade and LeBron James combining for 36 points on 13-of-18 shooting. Both teams shot above 50 percent in the first half.

    The Heat looked to break the game open in the third quarter, but late-game heroics from James Harden nearly stole it for Houston.

    Let's take a position-by-position look at how each player fared on Wednesday.

Point Guards

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    Mario Chalmers, PG MIA: B-

    Mario Chalmers may think he's a top-10 point guard in the NBA, but he didn't stand out against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.

    Chalmers had a rather nondescript game offensively, putting up only five points on 2-of-5 shooting and three assists in 26 minutes. He finished plus-nine largely by virtue of being on the court so often with Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, who both led the way for Miami.

    To Chalmers' credit, however, his on-ball defense caused Rockets PG Jeremy Lin all sorts of problems. Lin finished the game shooting 3-of-10 from the field with only three assists and two turnovers.

    Chalmers also drew a critical charge against James Harden with 45 seconds left in the game with the Heat clinging to a three-point lead.

    Jeremy Lin, PG HOU: C-

    In February 2012, Miami put the clamps on Jeremy Lin and held him to 1-of-11 shooting, his lowest output since the explosion of Linsanity.

    On Wednesday night, the Miami Heat harassed Lin like it was 2012 all over again.

    Coming off of a 28-point game against Golden State (Tuesday) and a 22-point outing at Denver (last Wednesday), the Rockets point man finished 0-of-3 from the field in the first half, scoring all four of his points from the free-throw line.

    He struggled badly with the Heat's defensive switches, coughing the ball up twice. The second half wasn't much better for Lin. He curbed the turnover problems but still wasn't able to find the basket.

Shooting Guards

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    Dwyane Wade, SG MIA: A

    With one-third of the Big Three sidelined by the flu (Chris Bosh), Dwyane Wade took it upon himself to start out the game aggressively.

    He registered 11 points in the first eight minutes of the game, including a monster dunk after a steal from James Harden. Wade drove without fear into the paint all night despite the presence of Omer Asik.

    Wade's typical craftiness frequently made appearances on Wednesday night too. He got Harden to bite on his patented pump fake with 30 seconds left in the first half and dazzled with his usual array of off-the-backboard shots.

    D-Wade grabbed a huge offensive rebound with 1:20 left in the game with the Heat up four, putting a temporary halt to Houston's comeback bid. He also iced the game by blocking a three-point attempt by Harden with less than 15 seconds left in the game.

    He finished with 31 points on 18 shots, eight assists, five rebounds and a game-high four steals.

    James Harden, SG HOU: B+

    James Harden tried out his best LeBron James impersonation against Miami, but it wasn't enough.

    Harden tried to pick-and-roll Miami to death, which led to 11 points and three assists in the first half. He had a #TripleDoubleAlert going for himself at the end of three quarters when he had 20 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, but he finished three assists short on the night.

    Unfortunately for Harden, he also found himself tasked with guarding LeBron James in the post occasionally. Suffice it to say, that didn't tend to go so well for him. 

    A downtown bomb from Harden cut Miami's lead to six points with less than three minutes remaining in the game, and three ensuing free throws from The Beard drew Houston within three.

    Harden scored 11 points in the final three minutes for Houston, but an offensive foul on him with 45 seconds left in the game ended up being a major difference-maker for Miami.

Small Forwards

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    LeBron James, SF MIA: A

    Anyone doubting LeBron James' place as the NBA's best active player clearly wasn't watching his dissection of Houston on Wednesday.

    James finished with 32 points on 11-of-18 shooting, six rebounds, five assists and two blocks against Houston. Ho-hum.

    The extent to which James dominated on Wednesday night was astounding. In his first 23 minutes, James registered 28 points on 11-of-15 shooting, five rebounds, four assists, three made three-pointers and a steal.

    He appeared content to get his passing game going early in the first quarter, but he quickly switched into world-beater mode. Once he did, the Rockets had no answer for James defensively.

    When Chandler Parsons guarded him on the perimeter, James stepped back and drained long two-point jumpers. When James Harden tried to defend him in the post, James backed him down with ease.

    Despite a late comeback bid by Houston, there was no stopping James this night.

    Chandler Parsons, SF HOU: B-

    Chandler Parsons played about as well as Houston could have hoped, considering he was matched up against the league's reigning MVP. These aren't charity grades, though.

    Parsons was abused defensively by LeBron James in the first quarter, and it never got much better for the Rockets small forward.

    Two quick buckets at the beginning of the second began to turn it around for Parsons. He scored eight points in the first five minutes of the second quarter, then hit a three-pointer later in the quarter after James Harden fed him off a double-team.

    Like Harden, Parsons' grade is diminished due to the fact that he stood little chance defensively against LeBron James. Parsons played about as well as Houston could ask against LeBron, but he found himself time after time on the wrong end of a James basket.

Power Forwards

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    Shane Battier, PF MIA: B

    With Chris Bosh sidelined by the flu, Shane Battier slid back into Miami's starting lineup at the 4.

    Battier bricked his first three-point attempt, but he drained four on the night en route to 12 total points. His last three, with just over two minutes remaining in the game, extended Miami's lead back to six after Harden trimmed the score to 104-101.

    Battier also chipped in three assists on the night, the last of which on a three-pointer from LeBron James that gave Miami a 71-56 lead early in the third quarter.

    He played his typically stingy defense against Houston, particularly causing trouble in the paint against Houston's bigs late in the game.

    Patrick Patterson, PF HOU: C+

    Patrick Patterson isn't the flashiest player in the world, but he got the job done offensively for Houston against Miami.

    He scored on a nice up-and-under with three minutes gone by in the first quarter, but he was called for an offensive foul against Udonis Haslem three minutes later.

    Patterson finished 7-of-12 from the field for 15 points on the night for Houston, which wouldn't be too shabby if not for his lack of contributions elsewhere.

    He grabbed only three rebounds on the night and put up zeros in assists, steals and blocks. Two turnovers don't help his case, either.


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    Udonis Haslem, C MIA: B+

    Udonis Haslem slid over to the starting 5 spot for Miami and more than held his own against the Houston Rockets bigs.

    He hit three mid-range jumpers in the first four minutes of the game and finished with nine points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field.

    Haslem also grabbed a season-high 13 rebounds against the Rockets, who clearly outsized him at the 5 with Omer Asik.

    His biggest play of the game came with 20 seconds left and the Rockets down three. James Anderson drove his way into the paint only to find Haslem awaiting, ready to take a charge.

    The refs blew the whistle on Anderson, and that was all she wrote for Houston's spirited comeback bid.

    Omer Asik, C HOU: B

    Omer Asik went to work early and often against the depleted Miami frontcourt, but he couldn't make his impact felt as strongly in the second half.

    He dominated the paint against Miami, recording a game-high three offensive rebounds and a game-high 14 rebounds in total. Asik also dropped a nice righty hook shot over Joel Anthony midway through the second quarter.

    Asik was relatively silent in the second half offensively, however, recording only four points on 2-of-4 shooting.

    He also wasn't able to dissuade LeBron James and Dwyane Wade from repeatedly driving into the paint and drawing fouls despite his size advantage over Miami.

Sixth Men

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    Norris Cole, PG MIA: B+

    With typical sixth man Shane Battier shifted to the starting lineup, Norris Cole served as the X-factor off the bench for Miami against Houston.

    Cole finished with 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting, but he managed to repeatedly stem Houston's momentum throughout the night. He helped Miami open up a lead in the second quarter, allowing Dwyane Wade to get a breather in the process.

    He missed a 24-foot three-pointer for Miami's first shot of the final stanza, then ran into Patrick Patterson for an offensive foul less than 20 seconds later.

    Overall, Cole played better than Miami's starting point guard, Mario Chalmers, on the night.

    Toney Douglas, PG HOU: C

    No one from the Houston Rockets bench really stood out against the Miami Heat, but if anyone deserves the sixth-man nod, it's Toney Douglas.

    Two minutes after entering the game late in the first quarter, Douglas drilled a 25-foot three-pointer, then stole the ball from Norris Cole, weaved his way through Cole and James and converted a breakaway layup.

    Unfortunately for Houston, that's largely where Douglas' highlight reel for the night ended.

    He finished with seven points on 3-of-7 shooting and chipped in three rebounds, three assists and a steal. 


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    Miami: C-

    Miami coach Erik Spoelstra had to go deeper into his bench than usual against Houston.

    Beyond Norris Cole, no Miami bench member managed to step up to the challenge. Ray Allen finished with five points on 1-of-8 shooting, continuing his February slump.

    Rashard Lewis wasn't much better, shooting 2-of-7 from the field for five points and five rebounds. He did record a block against James Anderson with the Heat up 100-88 and five minutes remaining in the game.   

    Chris "Birdman" Andersen only got 12 minutes of burn on Wednesday, but he looked like the Heat's best big man not named "Udonis" or "LeBron" on the night. 

    Houston: B

    The Houston Rockets bench can largely take the credit for preventing Miami from turning this game into a blowout before James Harden led the Rockets' furious fourth-quarter rally.

    Every Houston starter had a plus/minus rating either minus-seven or below, but Toney Douglas, James Anderson, Cole Aldrich and Marcus Morris all finished plus-four or higher.

    Douglas already earned his praise on the previous slide, so let's focus on Anderson here for a moment. The San Antonio castoff finished with six points, four assists and two rebounds in 28 minutes for the Rockets, but a late offensive charge against Udonis Haslem ended all chances of a Houston comeback.

    Morris didn't have his finest game as a professional, however, finishing 1-of-7 from the field.