Ray Allen scored a season-high 25 points off the bench, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade had 24 points apiece and the Miami Heat used a late 15-0 run to pull away from the Houston Rockets, 113-104, on Sunday afternoon.
The Heat trailed 102-98 with 4:26 to go, but they held the Rockets without a field goal the rest of the way and earned a win that should at least temporarily silence the talk about their recent struggles.
Miami led by as much as 11 in the second quarter, only to see the Rockets battle back and whittle the lead down to three at halftime.
Houston would proceed to take a two-point lead into the fourth period, but the Heat would end up outscoring the Rockets 34-23 over the final 12 minutes.
Allen was particularly sensational, knocking down some big triples to break Houston's back in the final quarter.
Wade on Allen: "Ray, he's awesome, man. He doesn't need much time."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) March 16, 2014
Miami shot 51.3 percent from the floor and went 24-of-29 from the free-throw line.
The Rockets have now lost three games in a row.
Key Player Grades
Dwight Howard, Center
You really have to commend Dwight Howard for his spectacular performance in the loss.
The big man registered 21 points, 14 rebounds and five assists, demonstrating the kind of passing ability that most of us probably weren't even sure he had.
Howard was also outstanding in rim protection, blocking two shots and altering countless others throughout the game.
He was efficient, going 9-of-12 from the floor and doing everything from scoring off putbacks to even driving the lane for easy twos.
Too bad all of that had to come in defeat.
James Harden, Shooting Guard
Like Howard, James Harden was also very good on Sunday afternoon.
The explosive wing scored a game-high 30 points off 7-of-16 shooting, knocking down five of his 12 three-point tries and hitting on 11 of his 12 free-throw attempts.
The only thing I really didn't like about Harden's outing was his decision-making in the latter stages of the contest.
Harden took a couple of ill-advised threes in the second half, and he had some costly turnovers in the midst of Houston runs.
Harden also did not move the ball around as well as he usually does, as he logged only one assist in 43 minutes.
Still, you can't argue with 30 points off that type of efficiency from downtown and from the charity stripe.
Chandler Parsons, Small Forward
For the second time in as many meetings with Miami this season, Chandler Parsons did a great job of clamping down on LeBron James in the second half.
Parsons played a significant role in holding James to just nine second-half points, and he did an outstanding job of harassing James on the perimeter, picking his pocket a couple of times, which resulted in transition buckets for the Rockets.
Parsons only scored nine points, but his impact was certainly felt, and you can see that in the five assists and four steals that he added to his totals.
Not an incredible game for the University of Florida product, but certainly not a bad one, either.
Terrence Jones, Power Forward
Because the Heat went to a small-ball lineup late, Terrence Jones was forced to ride the bench in the fourth quarter, and that's a shame, because the second-year forward was very effective in this one.
Jones scored 12 points off 5-of-7 shooting, executing some tough finishes around the basket and knocking down a big corner three in the middle of a Rockets run during the first half.
The youngster also grabbed four rebounds and collected two steals in 25 minutes.
Patrick Beverley, Point Guard
I absolutely love Patrick Beverley's energy.
Wade on Beverley: "He's a Chicago guy. He's tough. He's a competitor. He's a fighter."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) March 16, 2014
He definitely seems to enjoy playing the Heat, as he took 14 shots in this game, second to only Harden for most shots on the Rockets.
Unfortunately for Beverley, he missed nine of them and only drained one three-pointer in five attempts. Albeit, it was a big three that put Houston up by four late, but he missed a couple of other good looks throughout.
Where Beverley makes his presence most known, however, is defensively, and he was a pest yet again Sunday.
The fiery floor general recorded four steals and made life miserable for Miami's point guards, harassing them at the top of the key and playing very physically whenever he got switched on to a bigger player.
Beverley ended up with 15 points and five dimes in 36 minutes.
Oh, and he also had this vicious slam over Chris Bosh and Chris Andersen after crossing up LeBron.
Jeremy Lin, Sixth Man
Jeremy Lin looked lost for most of the 26 minutes he was out on the floor in this one.
The man who once took the league by storm scored only six points off 2-of-7 shooting, taking some very poor shots in the fourth quarter and committing three turnovers and four fouls overall.
He also tallied only two assists.
Not a great afternoon for Lin.
Donatas Motiejunas played very well in his 17 minutes, posting seven points and four rebounds and making very smart decisions. He also played some fine defense.
Omer Asik was a force, too, recording four points and six rebounds (four offensive) and doing a great job of hedging screens out on the perimeter.
That was it for the Rockets bench, though.
Jordan Hamilton saw seven minutes of burn and missed his two field-goal attempts.
LeBron James, Small Forward
LeBron James got off to a very quick start, coming out in attack mode and scoring 11 points in the first quarter.
He was relatively quiet (for his standards) the rest of the way, however, putting in only 13 points over the final three periods.
James had some very nice cuts to the basket that resulted in thunderous dunks during the first half, and while he didn't do much of that over the latter 24 minutes, his imprint on the game was already made early on.
Still, given LeBron's capabilities, this wasn't a spectacular outing, especially considering he exhibited some pretty sloppy ball-handling throughout (he had five turnovers).
He finished with 24 points off 8-of-17 shooting, dishing out five assists and grabbing five rebounds in a hefty 43 minutes.
Dwyane Wade, Shooting Guard
Dwyane Wade was very, very impressive against Houston.
He seemed to have an extra bounce in his step, doing an outstanding job of running the floor and making plays in transition.
Wade also had his mid-range jumper going, as he consistently knocked it down coming off screens.
The 2-guard tallied 24 points off 10-of-15 shooting and handed out seven dimes. He also committed only one turnover.
Chris Bosh, Power Forward
Chris Bosh made some big plays down the stretch to help Miami earn the win.
He hit a big mid-range jumper to put the Heat up six with just under two minutes to go, and he then had a big block on a Beverley drive that negated what would have been a sure two points.
Bosh finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, shooting an efficient 7-of-12 from the floor.
The big man also nailed a couple of triples.
Mario Chalmers, Point Guard
This was truly an awful effort by Mario Chalmers.
He shot only 3-of-9 from the floor, but that wasn't even the worst part. Chalmers turned the ball over five times and racked up four fouls in just 19 minutes of action.
'Rio also misfired on all three of his long-range attempts.
He totaled six points and four assists.
Greg Oden, Center
Erik Spoelstra decided to switch things up by starting Greg Oden at center for this one.
Greg Oden says that starting helps him, because he's not coming in cold when everyone else is warm— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) March 16, 2014
The results were mixed.
Oden's size definitely had an impact in some situations, as he set some good screens and made Howard work a little bit around the basket, but he is still clearly rusty.
Oden showed little to no coordination on the offensive end, and he still looks a step or two slow defensively.
Final stat line? No points and six rebounds in 13 minutes.
Ray Allen, Sixth Man
Ray Allen may have been the most important player on the floor for Miami in this one.
One game after scoring a season-high 22 points, Allen broke that by pouring in 25 against the Rockets, going 7-of-11 from the floor, hitting on four of six from downtown and connecting on all seven of his free-throw attempts.
Most impressive about Allen was that 18 of his 25 points came in the second half, and he had numerous big treys down the stretch.
Allen also had several nice drives to the basket, flashing back to his Boston days with a couple of floaters.
The veteran also did not record a single turnover in 29 minutes.
Norris Cole's struggles continued in this one. The reserve floor general scored five points off 2-of-6 shooting and committed four fouls in 25 minutes.
Chris Andersen was effective, however, tallying six points and seven boards in 21 minutes.
Shane Battier scored five points and drew one of his usual charges, also in 21 minutes.
All things considered, outside of Allen, Miami's bench was nothing more than mediocre on Sunday afternoon.
What's Next for the Rockets?
Probably some wins.
After three straight losses to the likes of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls and Heat, the Rockets' next five games are against the Utah Jazz, Minnesota Timberwolves, Cleveland Cavaliers, Charlotte Bobcats and Philadelphia 76ers.
They will endure another tough stretch after that group of contests, though, so they better start picking up some victories now if they want to earn one of the top four seeds in the West.
What's Next for the Heat?
It's a mixed bag.
The next two games should be wins for Miami, as it will face the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics. After that, however, the Heat get the Memphis Grizzlies with upcoming games against the Portland Trail Blazers and Indiana Pacers.
It should be interesting to see how Miami responds after snapping out of its recent funk with this win over Houston.