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Heat dominate Rockets 129-100 with historic first quarter

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The Heat built a lead that crested at 41.

Houston Rockets v Miami Heat Photo by Oscar Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

The Miami Heat jumped out to a 24-4 lead on the Houston Rockets. They never looked back.

The Heat scored a franchise-record 46 points in the first quarter and utterly dominated Houston Sunday night, 129-100. Miami repeatedly punished the Rockets for their porous defense, running players down the middle of the floor for easy layups and dunks.

Houston played much of the game without many bigs, and Meyers Leonard feasted around the rim. He finished with a season-high 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field. Miami ran a clinic on the lackadaisical Houston defense, with players making hard cuts to the basket all night long. Miami racked up an astonishing 38 assists on the night, emblematic of their crisp ball movement. At some points, it looked like a layup line — Houston’s defense was that embarrassing.

Beyond the inside game of Leonard, Duncan Robinson made seven 3-pointers to score a season-high 23 points on the night. Robinson started his second consecutive game, as Justise Winslow sat out again with a back injury. Miami was also without Derrick Jones Jr.

But one player who was back was James Johnson, who played in his first game all year after failing to meet conditioning requirements at training camp. And Johnson filled in admirably, defending Russell Westbrook and chipping in 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field. He made this nice pass to Kelly Olynyk for an easy score.

While Dion Waiters remains out of the picture, I see Johnson getting a rotation spot this year. His unique skill set of playmaking, scoring and defense will help Miami, especially on a night when Winslow is out.

The Heat also got a complete game from Jimmy Butler, who only scored five points in Miami’s Thursday night win over the Atlanta Hawks. Butler was aggressive from the opening tip, scoring eight points in the first four minutes of the night. But he was also active defensively, guarding James Harden well and picking up four steals on the night.

Butler was also a distributor, dishing out nine assists on the night to go along with 18 points and seven rebounds. Sunday night, he offered the type of all-around play Miami hasn’t seen since LeBron James donned a Heat jersey.

Goran Dragic continued his strong start to the season, scoring 15 points off the bench with three 3-pointers and four assists. Tyler Herro added 12 points off the bench and had this nice steal of Austin Rivers that led to a Butler layup.

James Harden was the only player who gave Houston much offensively, and he scored 29 points on 14 trips to the foul line. Russell Westbrook, who was rumored to get traded to Miami over the summer, shot just 3-for-11 from the field in a frustrating night. Heat fans even chanted “Overrated!” while he was at the free throw line in the second half.

The 5-1 Heat will travel out West for a three-game road trip. First up is Tuesday night against the Denver Nuggets.