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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 lose 101-94 to Jimmy Butler, Max Strus and the Miami Heat
POSTED: February 12, 2021 -- 9:00 a.m. CT
HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- The Houston Rockets lost to the Miami Heat 101-94 Thursday night. With the loss, Houston (11-14) is on a 4 game losing streak -- after winning 6 games in a row and 7 of 8.
Too much Jimmy Butler (not a surprise) and too much Max Strus. Max Strus? Who?!
Strus, 6'5", is on a two-way contract from the Sioux Fall Sky Force of the NBA G League. The Rockets had no answer for Strus Thursday night. Strus scored a career-high 21 points in 25 minutes off the Heat bench. Strus made 6 of his 9 field goal attempts including 5 of 8 from long range.
Butler produced a triple-double with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
After Miami guard Duncan Robinson swished three straight three-pointers for a 9-5 Heat lead, the Rockets tied the game at 9 before leading 26-13 with 2:26 remaining in the first quarter. Houston led 29-19 at the end of the quarter.
Miami finished the quarter 3 for 12 from three-point range -- in other words -- Miami didn't make a three-point shot the rest of the quarter after Robinson's hot start.
The Heat shot 1 for 10 from three in the second quarter; however, the Rockets the Heat shot 8 for 12 from two-point range and went 9 for 9 from the free throw line to outscore the Rockets 28-24 in the second quarter and slice Houston's lead to 53-47 at halftime.
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The third quarter was a disaster for Houston. Houston traded places with the Heat from three-point range in the third quarter. The Rockets went 0 for 10 from three in the third while the Heat lit up the Rockets from long range going 7 for 12. Miami blitzed the Rockets with a 23-6 run and outscored the Rockets 28-10 in the quarter.
Houston rookie Jae'Sean Tate was 4 for 5 from the floor in the quarter. The rest of the Rockets shot 0 for 15 from the floor.
Basically, we relied on just shooting threes and that hurt us," John Wall said after the game.
Houston trailed 75-63 after three quarters. In addition to the ice-cold field goal shooting in the third quarter, Houston's Victor Oladipo left the game with a sore right foot / ankle and didn't return. In the first half, Oladipo challenged a Max Strus attack at the rim and landed awkwardly after the contact. Oladipo left the game; however, he returned in the third quarter. But, the pain / discomfort in his foot caused him to check out of the game and not return.
Tucker injured his thigh; and, the pain was enough to keep him from finishing the game.
Miami (11-14) led 85-70 with 7:53 left in the ball game; but, DeMarcus Cousins made a jump hook and a three-point shot during a 10-3 Houston run to slice Houston's deficit to 88-80 with 5:23 on the clock. Jimmy Butler knocked down a jumper to boost Miami's lead to 10.
Houston trailed 97-85 with 3:35 on the clock. Miami went scoreless for nearly three-minutes; and, the Rockets went on a 9-0 run. John Wall hit a three-pointer with 50 seconds remaining to bring Houston within three (97-94).
On Miami's next possession, Butler missed a 13-foot fadeaway jumper; however, the Rockets did not get the defensive rebound and Miami's Andre Iguodala got the rebound to start another possession for the Heat. Miami's Kendrick Nunn missed a three-point shot attempt; and, once again, the Rockets did not get the defensive rebound and Iguodala got another offensive rebound.
"I wish we could have come up with that basketball at the end," Stephen Silas, Rockets head coach, said during his postgame media session.
With 10 seconds now left in the game, Houston was forced to foul. Jimmy Butler went to the line and made both free throws for a 99-94 Heat lead. After a turnover by John Wall, Max Strus was fouled. Strus closed out the game making 2 free throws. Strus scored 14 of his career-high 21 points in the fourth quarter.
Houston shot 30.0% from 3-point range tonight. The Rockets are shooting 31.2% from behind-the-arc over the past six games after shooting 40.6% the five games prior. Houston is shooting 39.6% from downtown in wins this season compared to 31.5% in losses.
The Rockets lost despite forcing an opponent season-high tying 21 turnovers and scoring a season-best 34 points off turnovers. Over the past four seasons, Houston was 12-0 when scoring 30+ points off turnovers. The Rockets are only 6-7 when forcing 20 or more turnovers dating back to last season.
DeMarcus Cousins had 16 point and 11 rebounds, marking his fifth double-double of the season. Over the past 11 games, Cousins is averaging 12.1 points and 8.4 rebounds after averaging 6.1 points per game and 6.7 rebounds per game in his first 11 games as a Rocket.
Jae'Sean Tate finished the game with 16 points and 7 rebounds. Tate has scored in double-figures in three straight games for the first time in his career. Over the past eight games, Tate is averaging 11.9 points on 62.5% shooting after averaging 7.9 points per game on 49.5% shooting the first 17 games. He has grabbed 7 plus rebounds in six of the past 10 games after doing so once the first 15 games.
Eric Gordon had 17 points snapping his streak of scoring 20 or more in each of his previous five games played. Gordon is still averaging 19.2 points per game on 46.6% shooting (38.7% 3FGs) over his past 15 games played after averaging 14.3 points per game on 43.4% shooting (29.6% 3FGs) his first seven games played.
John Wall had 17 points while shooting 4-of-9 from 3-point range. He has hit 4 or more threes in four of his past six games played after having hitting 3 plus threes once over his first 10 games as a Rocket. Wall has not hit 4 or more threes in a game more than five times in a single season.
The Rockets return to the road for a 3-game trip. The first game of the trip is versus the New York Knicks on Saturday, February 13. Tip is set for 7 p.m. Central Time.
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