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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Lowe's Senior CLASS, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.
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Rockets snap losing streak with 117-108 win over Heat
Posted: November 28, 2019 -- 7:41 a.m. CT
HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- The Houston Rockets snapped a 3-game losing streak with a 117-108 win over the Miami Heat Wednesday night.
Both teams were without a starter: Houston's Clint Capela missed the game due to illness and Miami's Jimmy Butler missed the game due to illness.
The Heat scored the first three points of the game on a Goran Dragic three-point basket. The 3-0 lead was Miami's only lead of the ball game. Houston scored 10 straight points and never looked back.
The Rockets led by as much as 14 (25-11) in the quarter; however, the Heat finished the quarter with a 12-2 run to trim Houston's lead to 27-23 at the end of the opening 12 minutes.
With Capela out of the game and Miami's small ball lineup, Rockets Head Coach Mike D'Antoni put second-year forward Gary Clark into the lineup to start the second quarter.
Clark rewarded D'Antoni's decision with 7 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block, and 1 steal in the second quarter. James Harden (13) and Russell Westbrook (10) combined for 23 points in the second quarter; and, the Rockets outscored the Heat 39-19 in the quarter to lead 66-42 at halftime.
"Gary (Clark) is good," D'Antoni said after the game. "We're trying to find somebody that gives us something consistent and now you know- it's up to him to do this. I mean, everybody in the NBA can do this one or two nights, but can you do this six months in a row, and you know – we've got to have that and we're looking for that. He's got an opportunity; but, tonight he was good."
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In the third quarter, Houston led by as much as 25 (74-49); and, the lead did not get below 19 in the quarter. However, Houston's defense was not as sharp in the fourth quarter as it was the previous three quarters which helped Miami get within 12 points (103-91) with 5:18 remaining in the game.
"In the fourth quarter, we lost our focus a little bit," D'Antoni remarked. "And, then, maybe we got a little tired or whatever. You know – we just, it's too bad, because we played really well for three quarters."
Houston maintained a double-digit lead until the final minute of the game. Miami pulled within 9 (115-106) with 32 seconds remaining. Both teams scored 2 points in the final seconds for the 117-108 final score.
Gary Clark played 29 minutes, 17 seconds Wednesday night. Clark finished the game with 12 points on 5 of 10 field goal shooting and a career-high tying 8 rebounds. Prior to Wednesday night, Clark played a 9 plus minutes in 4 games and scored 6 points this season.
Clark said the coaching staff spoke with him Tuesday and let him know he would get minutes versus Miami.
After the game, Clark mentioned how important it is to stay ready.
"You can think about a lot sitting over there (on the bench), a lot of games," Clark commented. "I think just from last year, just stretches not playing from January until recently. Just being able to think the game, learn the game, just seeing the ins and outs when you're sitting over there. So, it's huge to be ready and just being a professional."
In addition to Clark's good effort, Danuel House Jr scored a career-high 23 points on 7 of 11 field goal shooting including 4 for 8 from three. House took advantage of the open looks at the basket he got because of the talent and attacking style of Harden and Westbrook.
"There are always good looks on this team," House Jr said. "When those two guys (Russell Westbrook & James Harden) get going downhill, they put a lot of pressure on a lot of people, which causes – like I am open. OPEN. So, thank you Russ (Russell Westbrook) and James (Harden)."
Houston's next game is Saturday, November 30, versus the Atlanta Hawks. Tip is set for 7 p.m.
Three Rockets (James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Danuel House Jr.) scored 20 or more points Wednesday night. Houston has had three players score 20 or more in three of the past five games after not doing so prior this season. The Rockets were 15-4 when 3 or more players scored 20 or more in 2018-19.
James Harden scored 34 points while shooting 7-of-17 from 3-point range. The Rockets are 11-2 when he scores 34 or more points this season and 1-4 when he scores below. Over the past 12 games, Harden is averaging 5.8 3-point field goals made on 40.1% shooting after averaging 2.8 3-point field goals made on 21.5% shooting the first six games of the season. His 86 threes are the second-most by a player through the first 18 games of a season in NBA history (Stephen Curry w/ 90 threes made in 2015-16).
Russell Westbrook had 27 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists Wednesday night while shooting 52.4% from the floor to extend his season-best streak of scoring 20 or more points to five games. That is tied for the second-longest streak by a Rocket not named Harden since Harden joined the team in 2012-13 (Chandler Parsons: 6 games from February 23 to March 8, 2013). Tonight marked the fifth time Westbrook scored 20 or more points while shooting 50.0% or better; Houston is 5-0 in those games.
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