The Miami Heat struggled offensively in the first half without Jimmy Butler and a late game comeback fell short in what was ultimately a 117-108 road loss Wednesday night at the Toyota Center.
The Heat were mostly their own worse enemy early on with careless turnovers and failing to hit the kind of open shots they knocked down with ease in their first matchup this season. Fueled by the unstoppable James Harden, the Rockets made the Heat pay with any defensive slip-up and the starters simply couldn’t keep up offensively.
A 19-6 Rockets run midway through first quarter gave them their first significant lead, but the Heat answered back with a run of their own to close it to 25-20 after three-pointers from Meyers Leonard, Tyler Herro, and Kendrick Nunn. Houston would answer back in the second quarter with a 9-0 lead and take a 24-point lead at halftime.
The Rockets would hold the lead for the rest of the game, but Miami made one last push led by Herro, Justise Winslow (in his welcome return to the team after a 23-day absence) and Kelly Olynyk — who scored six consecutive points in the game’s closing minutes.
Herro led the Heat with 22 points off the bench along with fellow reserve Olynyk, who scored 19. Bam Adebayo almost had a triple-double with 17 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. However, all three were responsible for 13 of the team’s 18 costly turnovers for the game.
Harden finished with 34 points, Russell Westbrook chipped in 27 and Danuel House Jr. notched a career-high with 24 points.
Miami next hosts the lowly Golden State Warriors on Friday night.