The Miami Heat came out ready for a regular season dress rehearsal against the Houston Rockets in their final home preseason game before opening up the season next week. They had a rough start, but finished strong and beat the Houston Rockets, 90-85. It was the Heat's third consecutive preseason win after starting the year 0-4.
The bright spot in the first half was Dwyane Wade. He scored 17 points on 8-10 shooting in the first two quarters. He mid range jump shot was on, and he was being very active. He looked like a Wade from about 4 seasons ago at most times, with a few lapses. The Heat were beat up pretty bad in the first half by the Rockets three-point shot, they were knocking them in left and right and it put the Heat severely behind. The Heat trailed by 11 at halftime.
It took the Heat the entire third quarter to catch up, and they took the lead just before the fourth on a Mario Chalmers bank three-pointer. The Heat played much better offense, and they hustled and rotated on defense. Their biggest problems came on the glass, as Howard, Terrence Jones and others routinely got offensive rebounds. While the first half was plagued with turnovers, the second half saw the Heat struggle in the paint.
James Harden and Dwight Howard both had 19 points for the Rockets. Houston started out really hot for most of the game, but finished shooting under 40% for the game.
It was a close game down the stretch, which saw the Heat playing their starters and the Rockets playing their subs. The Heat's second half defense was much better, but it's clear they still have some room to smooth out their offense. When it came down to it, they got good looks through the offense of Wade and Bosh.
Dwyane Wade hit a clutch jumper with under a minute to go to give the Heat a 5 point lead, and he also sank two free throws to help secure the win for the Heat.
Shabazz Napier played a much different game when he isn't the main source of attention. When Napier was leading the likes of Andre Dawkins, Tyler Johnson and so on, he took the ball and made plays. But tonight, he was very much in defer mode to Wade, Bosh, and even Chalmers. Napier will need to learn the right balance between aggression and role playing for the Heat.
Dwyane Wade was good for much of the game. He finished with 26 points and 6 assists. Chris Bosh was exceptional on offense (22 points), but really struggled to contain Dwight Howard on the glass. Not an easy task, but that will be Bosh's job all season, needs to be better.
Shawne Williams is earning a spot in the rotation, even when Josh McRoberts comes back. Udonis Haslem has seemingly been passed in the rotation again. Mario Chalmers got his confidence back and had a really great game (13 points). Norris Cole isn't the clear starter yet. It seems Chalmers is on the bench more to backup Wade than because he isn't better than Cole.