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Rockets vs. Heat: Score, Highlights, Reaction from 2017 Regular Season

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 18, 2017

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 17: Goran Dragic #7 of the Miami Heat goes for the lay up during the game against the Houston Rockets on January 17, 2017 at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Oscar Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Oscar Baldizon/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets have been cruising along during their first season under head coach Mike D'Antoni, but they hit a speed bump Tuesday evening in South Beach. 

Matched up against the fledgling Miami Heat (12-30), the Rockets (32-12) fell victim to sloppy passing, shoddy shooting and general lethargy in a 109-103 loss. The win represented Miami's third since Dec. 22, while the loss was Houston's third over its past four games. 

The Rockets—who are the only NBA team with over 600 made threes so far this season—were in an uncharacteristic funk from beyond the arc all night. They finished 9-of-39 on long-range attempts.

Of course, it didn't help that Ryan Anderson (illness) was unavailable and Eric Gordon (seven points, 3-of-17 shooting) couldn't buy a bucket. 

As a result, James Harden's 13th triple-double of the season (40 PTS, 12 REB, 10 AST)—and fourth with at least 40 points, per SportsCenter on Twitterwent to waste: 

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

James Harden records his 4th 40-pt triple-double of the season. That's the most by any player in the last 30 seasons. https://t.co/Uxtn8MBQyw

The Heat were paced by 21 points, eight rebounds and eight assists from Goran Dragic as well as a 14-point, 15-rebound double-double from Hassan Whiteside. James Johnson added 15 points, eight boards, six dimes and three steals off the bench, and his play caught the eye of ESPN.com's Zach Lowe: 

Zach Lowe @ZachLowe_NBA

Full James Johnson experience tonight: spinny drives, fun passes, insane turnovers. Heat always play hard. Eric Gordon w/ one of those days

But considering Tuesday's matchup pitted Houston's third-ranked offense against Miami's 29th-ranked unit, according to NBA.com, it would have been fair to expect the Heat to lag behind Harden and the Rockets early. 

However, Erik Spoelstra's side was able to keep pace—thanks, in part, to Houston's shooting struggles. 

Although the Rockets led by five after the first quarter, they ceded that edge and trailed by as many as five in the second quarter before they went on a small run and knotted the score at 53 entering the break. 

A 6-of-20 shooting performance from beyond the arc over the first 24 minutes didn't help matters, and repeated misses from point-blank range further hindered the Rockets' ability to pile up points, according to the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen: 

Jonathan Feigen @Jonathan_Feigen

Rockets 53, Heat 53 at half. Rockets 4 of 11 in the paint in second quarter. They are 2nd in NBA in paint FG %, 6th in paint scoring.

The Rockets' struggles persisted through the third quarter because sets weren't being run with their usual crisp flair or flow, but Harden was there to bail them out even when the offense appeared to be in stagnant straits, as the team's official Twitter account documented: 

Houston Rockets @HoustonRockets

🌪 🏀 #Bearding https://t.co/vGRCkkO8Wf

But Harden could only do so much. 

Even though he rattled off his fourth triple-double since Jan. 8 and kept the Rockets afloat, consistent scoring from other sources was nowhere to be found. 

That served as a stark contrast to the Heat, who flaunted six double-figure scorers and pounded away below the free-throw line to the tune of a 64-50 scoring advantage in the paint on a night when the Rockets couldn't protect the rim, per Bleacher Report's Zach Buckley: 

Zach Buckley @ZachBuckleyNBA

When #Heat probe paint, they're finding zero resistance at the rim.

With a signature win in the bag, the Heat will have to try to capture the essence of Tuesday's performance and channel it into a couple of more complete performances to build some momentum.

The same can't be said for the Rockets, who will be back at it Wednesday evening when the Milwaukee Bucks pay a trip to Toyota Center. 

Playing such a stout, athletic team on zero rest won't be easy, but the Rockets will have to find a way to rebound and shake their bad mojo before the Golden State Warriors come to town for a nationally televised showdown Friday evening. 

Postgame Reaction

Fox Sports Florida relayed video of Dragic discussing Miami's big win: 

FOX Sports Florida @FOXSportsFL

.@Goran_Dragic joins @TheJaxShow in the winner's circle following the @MiamiHEAT's 109-103 win vs. the Rockets. #NBA #HeatIsOn #MiamiHEAT https://t.co/5retWvppeG

"You're pleased to see the guys get a result for all the work they're putting in," Spoelstra said, according to Buckley

However, Spoelstra noted his side was lucky to survive Harden's statistical onslaught. 

"He's as offensively skilled as any player in this league," he said, per Buckley. "You just want to wear on him. I don't know if we did."

Speaking of the Rockets, Feigen relayed an injury update after Gordon appeared hobbled at times in the loss: 

Jonathan Feigen @Jonathan_Feigen

D'Antoni said Eric Gordon turned an ankle. He's concerned about how he will bounce back for second half of back-to-back tomorrow.

According to ESPN.com's Calvin Watkins, D'Antoni cited the lack of lift on Gordon's shot as the main reason for his inefficiencies. 

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