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Lin struggles, Harden's 36 not enough to lift team
On a night when the Miami Heat allowed more than 11 points over their season average, and against a team that has made scoring look amazingly easy over the past couple of weeks, three plays in the final minute made all the difference.
And all were on the defensive end.
Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem each took a charge in the final 46 seconds, Dwyane Wade blocked a 3-point try by James Harden to essentially seal the outcome, and the Heat held off the Houston Rockets 114-108 on Wednesday night.
"We held them to 108," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "That team can score."
The Rockets, who scored 140 points and tied an NBA record with 23 makes from 3-point range on Tuesday night against Golden State, have averaged 118.5 points in their past six games. Harden, who led all scorers with 36 points, scored 16 in the fourth quarter alone for the Rockets, who rallied from what was a 17-point deficit in the second half to make it a one-possession game.
But they never got closer.
Chalmers stepped in front of Harden to draw an offensive foul with 46 seconds left, and Haslem took one against James Anderson with 18 ticks remaining and the Heat hanging on to a three-point lead. Wade blocked Harden's shot with about 11 seconds left, and the Heat escaped with their 20th home win in 23 tries this season.
"We had a tough run scoring the basketball," said Harden, who added 12 rebounds and seven assists. "We even got stops, but the big plays where we needed to make a play, they got stops - so that was the difference in the ballgame."
The Heat offense played a role as well, naturally.
LeBron James scored 32 points on 11 for 18 shooting and Wade added 31 points and eight assists. Shane Battier scored 12, Norris Cole added 10 and Haslem - starting for Chris Bosh, who missed the game with the flu - grabbed 13 rebounds for Miami.
Houston got a 15-point, 14-rebound night from Omer Asik and 15 more points from Patrick Patterson. Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons each scored 13 for the Rockets, who were 9 for 25 from beyond the arc, one night after their record-tying show against the Warriors.
"They have no quit in them and it starts with their head coach," James said of the Rockets. "They've been through a lot and first of all, my condolences still to Kevin McHale and his family with what they've been through this year. It's very sad, but this team never gives up. They had 140 points last night and tied the NBA record in 3s, so we knew we had to defend the 3, but we made enough plays down the stretch and got enough stops."
(China Daily 02/08/2013 page23)