Heat get defensive at right time against Rockets

Walter Villa, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MIAMI, Fla. -- With reporters waiting to get his thoughts, Houston Rockets star James Harden stood by his locker and muttered to no one in particular.
"Charge, charge," said Harden, who had a game-high 36 points. "I should have put up a 3."
Mario Chalmers drew the charging call that haunted Harden, and it was one of three big defensive plays made by the Miami Heat in the final minute of Wednesday night's 114-108 win over Houston.
The Heat's offensive heroes -- as usual -- were All-Stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, who combined for 63 points. Their efforts were even more important than usual because the Heat's third All-Star, Chris Bosh, was out with the flu.
James finished with 32 points, six rebounds and five assists. Wade had 31 points, eight assists and five rebounds.
"(The Rockets) went under on a lot of pick-and-rolls and dared me to shoot," said James, who made 11 of 18 from the floor. "I can shoot the ball. ... I can do a little bit of everything. However the game plays out, I am ready for it."
The Heat shut down the Rockets' prolific 3-point shooting. After tying an NBA record with 23 3-pointers on Tuesday, the Rockets made just 9 out of 23 3-pointers (36 percent) vs. the Heat.
Still, the game came down to the final minute. The Rockets had the ball and trailed by three points with 46 seconds left, but Harden, running on a fast break, bowled over Heat guard Chalmers.
"(The Rockets) are one of the toughest teams in the league to guard," Wade said. "To beat them, you have to get key stops, and we were able to do that."
Houston had the same opportunity with 18 seconds left, but James Anderson was assessed with a charging foul for ramming into Udonis Haslem.
"You have to have great timing and great courage to put your body in there and get those charges," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
James then hit one of two free throws to put Miami up 110-106 with 17.1 seconds left, and Wade blocked a Harden corner 3-pointer to seal the victory.
"The ball has to move," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said of the blocked-shot play. "We had a shot that we passed up."
Shane Battier, who started in Bosh's place, scored 12 points. Haslem added nine points and 13 rebounds.
James, meanwhile, was routinely brilliant. In his two previous games, he scored 30 and 31 points, respectively. In fact, on Monday night, he set a career record with 93-percent accuracy (13 of 14) and said he got fouled on his only miss, a layup.
For the Rockets, center Omar Asik had 15 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. But Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin was held to 13 points, making just 3 of 10 shots from the field.
Fortunately for the Rockets, Harden was stellar. He made 10 of 16 shots from the floor, including 4 of 7 on 3-pointers, and converted on 12 of 13 free throws. He added 12 rebounds, seven assists and three steals, doing much of his work while being guarded by James.
"(Harden) had a great defender on him and still had a great game," McHale said. "(Harden) is a great player. He makes shots, he's a tough kid, and he rebounded his (butt) off."
NOTES: Battier's dunk against Charlotte on Monday was his first since Feb. 24, 2010. "Drink it in," Battier said. "That may be the last time you see me dunk." ... Recently acquired forward Chris Andersen, who got four rebounds in 12 minutes against Houston for the rebounding-challenged Heat, has quickly become very popular with his new team. Spoelstra said Andersen "will play until his tank is absolutely empty. Right now, he probably is only capable of eight minutes at the pace he plays at, but he will get in better shape as the season goes on." James added that Andersen "doesn't leave anything in the tank when he is on the floor, and we love that about him." ... Both the Heat and Rockets are back in action Friday. The Heat host the Clippers. The Rockets will host Portland.

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