Sat, Dec 22, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Heat bring Rockets back to earth

AFP, LOS ANGELES

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, left, is pressured by Houston Rockets center Clint Capela on Thursday in Miami, Florida.

Photo: Steve Mitchell, USA Today

The Miami Heat on Thursday snapped Houston’s five-game winning streak with a 101-99 victory in a game that saw Rockets point guard Chris Paul injured again.

The Rockets were leading 45-37 in the second quarter when Paul, diving to regain control of the ball, clutched his left thigh and quickly left the game.

Paul had a left hamstring strain and would not return, the Rockets said.

The defeat and injury were a double blow for the Rockets, who had looked to be turning the corner after a slow start to the season.

With five straight wins they had risen from 14th to seventh in the Western Conference in a week, but the loss of Paul could prove particularly damaging.

They lost games six and seven of the Western Conference finals last season after Paul sustained a right hamstring injury.

“It’s part of the game,” Harden said of adjusting to life without Paul. “You’ve got to figure it out. Injuries happen — opportunities for other guys to step up, keep going.”

Josh Richardson led the Heat with 22 points. Tyler Johnson added 19 — producing a layup, a big block and a three-pointer to pull the Rockets to a 96-92 lead with less than three minutes remaining.

James Harden led the Rockets with 35 points, 12 assists and six rebounds, climbing off the floor after a frightening fall midway through the fourth quarter to make two free throws that pulled Houston into a 90-89 lead.

However, the Rockets could not hang on.

“We had a lot of opportunities,” Harden said. “We gave them a lot of second-chance opportunities, especially in the first half [that] kept them in the game and they made big shots in the end.”

In Los Angeles, the Clippers piled more road misery on the Dallas Mavericks with a 125-121 victory, snapping a four-game losing streak.

Forward Danilo Gallinari led the Clippers with 32 points and Lou Williams added 26 off the bench as the Clippers withstood 32 points from Mavs rookie Luka Doncic.

Dallas center DeAndre Jordan, who played 10 seasons for the Clippers, scored 11 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in his first game at Staples Center against his former team.

The Mavs trailed 89-82 heading into the final period, but reeled off eight straight points to seize the lead. That was the first of six lead changes in the final 10 minutes.

“Our intensity, our focus on the game plan especially on defense,” Gallinari said of what made the difference for the Clippers. “Offensively, we got Lou back. That’s very important for us, especially in the fourth quarter.”

For the Mavs it was a fourth straight defeat, three of those coming on the road.

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