Rockets lose Paul, Heat escape with 101-99 victory

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) dunks over Houston Rockets center Clint Capela (15) and forward PJ Tucker, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI (AP) — Josh Richardson scored 22 points, Tyler Johnson added 19 and the Miami Heat held off the Houston Rockets 101-99 on Thursday night for their first three-game winning streak of the season.

James Harden scored 35 for the Rockets, whose five-game winning streak was snapped when Eric Gordon’s three-point try at the buzzer hit the rim and bounced away. The worst part of the night for Houston, however, will likely be the loss of point guard Chris Paul in the second quarter to a strained left hamstring.

“It’ll be some time,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said of Paul, who will undergo an MRI on Friday.

Gordon’s three-pointer with 37 seconds left got Houston within two, and the Rockets got a stop on a long ensuing Heat possession. Dwyane Wade missed, Hassan Whiteside got the offensive rebound and Wade wound up missing again, with the Rockets finally corralling the ball with 3.8 seconds left.

The last play went to Gordon, and his triple — Houston’s 54th attempt of the night from beyond the arc — was off, and Miami escaped.

Derrick Jones Jr. scored 15 for Miami, which got 11 from James Johnson and 10 from Wade. Gordon scored 20 for the Rockets, who got 14 from PJ Tucker and 10 from Danuel House Jr.

The Rockets set an NBA record with 26 makes from three-point range in Washington on Wednesday, and connected on another 18 in this one. The 44 made triples in a two-game span are second-most in NBA history over such a stretch — Houston made 46 in a two-game stretch of the 2016-17 season — and are the most ever posted in consecutive days.

But in this one, the Rockets needed one more.

Houston ran out to a 30-14 lead, one of two instances where the Rockets held an early 16-point edge, and never trailed in the first half. Miami took its first lead on a drive by James Johnson with 7:48 left in the third quarter, and eventually went up by 11 in the fourth.

From there, the back-and-forth began.

Houston went on a 13-1 run to take the lead, with Miami going about six minutes without a field goal. Harden — who was shaken up midway through the fourth when he got hit on a drive — capped the burst with a pair of free throws, and the Heat looked like they were in trouble at home yet again.

Tyler Johnson came up with a loose ball and made a layup to snap Miami’s field-goal drought, then blocked a layup try by Harden to keep the Heat on top, and added a three-pointer for a four-point edge. And with 1:20 left, Wade used the same move he’s used for 16 seasons — the shot fake on the wing — to induce Gordon into a foul that he turned into two free throws for a 101-96 edge.

TIP-INS

Rockets: Houston led 45-38 when Paul went to the locker room. … If Paul misses any significant time, take note of this: Houston is 1-7 this season when Paul and Harden aren’t together, and going back to last season the Rockets have lost nine in a row when Paul isn’t on the floor. … Harden also had 12 assists, and was 15 for 18 from the foul line.

Heat: Justise Winslow (sore right ankle) didn’t play, adding to the injury woes of a Heat team that won’t have point guard Goran Dragic (right knee) for about two more months and still hasn’t seen the season debut of Dion Waiters — who is nearing a return from ankle surgery. … Wade tried a jump ball against Houston’s Clint Capela in the first quarter, even though the Heat had two centers on the floor.

STREAK ENDS

Whiteside played 24 minutes and didn’t record a blocked shot, ending a 26-game streak going back to last season where he had at least one rejection.

KNIGHT HOMECOMING

Houston’s Brandon Knight was born in Miami and played his high school ball in nearby Fort Lauderdale. Thursday marked his first appearance in an NBA game at Miami since March 2, 2015. Knight didn’t play last season after tearing his ACL in a summer pro league game at Miami in July 2017.

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