Both the Houston Rockets and the Miami Heat entered their Tuesday night game with undefeated records, and both had hopes of getting a statement win to prove their legitimacy early in the NBA season. But as the evening went on and the fans at American Airlines Arena grew restless with their team’s lackluster offensive performance, the Rockets were able to blow things open in the fourth quarter and notch the 108-91 win. The Rockets now improve to 5-0 on the season, while the Heat go to 3-1.
James Harden led the way for the Rockets, as he posted a near triple-double with 25 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds. Over the last three games, Harden has scored 86 points. His 27.2 points per game is fourth in the NBA, just behind Blake Griffin, Kobe Bryant, and Klay Thompson,
Dwight Howard also had a monster game, leading the Rockets with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Howard and Harden also had help from Trevor Ariza, who added 19 points of his own. Patrick Beverley also contributed 15 points, including 4/7 from behind the arc.
The Heat were led by Chris Bosh, who had 21 points and 8 rebounds. After the departure of LeBron James, many wondered what type of role Bosh would play in a new Miami offense. Through his first four games, Bosh is averaging 24.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, so it looks as if he’s slid into the premier role for this new-look Heat team. Dwyane Wade contributed with 19 of his own for the Heat, and Shawne Williams added 14.
As a team, the Rockets were 17 for 37 on three-point attempts. They have amassed 213 points from deep this season, while only scoring 198 points off two-point baskets. With Howard in the middle, it has opened up things from distance for many of the Rockets’ shooters.
The Heat jumped out to an early 31-30 lead after the first quarter, and the second quarter was equally as back-and-forth. However, the Rockets then went on a 17-8 run to end the half, taking the 57-55 lead into halftime. After the Heat fought back in the third, the Rockets would use an 18-point four-minute stretch to open things up, and then they capped things off with a 13-0 run late in the fourth quarter.
Both the Rockets and the Heat have had plenty of pressure on them leading up to the start of the season. There was a time in the offseason when Bosh was thought to be headed to Houston, until the Heat offered him a max deal. After botching the Bosh deal and a few others, the Rockets would end up losing Chandler Parsons to the Mavericks and fail to sign any substantial free agents in the process. With all that said, the Rockets have been the one of the hottest teams to start the season. At 5-0, the Rockets are one of three teams left that are undefeated; with the other two being the Grizzlies and the Warriors.
Despite the fast start, the Rockets remain behind a handful of other teams for odds to win the 2015 NBA Championship. Their 30/1 odds puts them behind the Mavs, Warriors, Thunder, Clippers, Bulls, Spurs, and Cavaliers.
As for the Heat, their 3-1 start has them tied atop the Eastern Conference with Chicago. However, their 50/1 odds is indicative to what many expect for Miami throughout the rest of the season. Be sure to check back with sportspicks.com for insight and information throughout the rest of the Heat season.
Next up for Miami is the 1-3 Hornets; and the Rockets will try and remain perfect against the 1-1 Spurs.