MIAMI — On a night when the Miami Heat allowed more than 11 points over their season average, and against a team that has made scoring look amazingly easy over the last couple weeks, three plays in the final minute made all the difference.
And all were on the defensive end.
Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem each took a charge in the final 46 seconds, Dwyane Wade blocked a 3-point try by James Harden to essentially seal the outcome, and the Heat held off the Houston Rockets 114-108 on Wednesday night.
“We held them to 108,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “That team can score.”
The Rockets, who scored 140 points and tied an NBA record with 23 makes from 3-point range on Tuesday night against Golden State, have averaged 118.5 points in their last six games. Harden, who led all scorers with 36 points, scored 16 in the fourth quarter alone for the Rockets, who rallied from what was a 17-point deficit in the second half to make it a one-possession game.
But they never got closer.
Chalmers stepped in front of Harden to draw an offensive foul with 46 seconds left, and Haslem took one against James Anderson with 18 ticks remaining and the Heat hanging onto a three-point lead. Wade blocked Harden’s shot with about 11 seconds left, and the Heat escaped with their 20th home win in 23 tries this season.
“We had a tough run scoring the basketball,” said Harden, who added 12 rebounds and seven assists. “We even got stops, but the big plays where we needed to make a play, they got stops — so that was the difference in the ballgame.”
The Heat offense played a role as well, naturally.
LeBron James scored 32 points on 11 for 18 shooting, and Wade added 31 points and eight assists. Shane Battier scored 12, Norris Cole added 10 and Haslem — starting for Chris Bosh, who missed the game with the flu — grabbed 13 rebounds for Miami.
Houston got a 15-point, 14-rebound night from Omer Asik and 15 more points from Patrick Patterson. Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons each scored 13 for the Rockets, who were 9 for 25 from beyond the arc, one night after their record-tying show against the Warriors.
“They have no quit in them and it starts with their head coach,” James said of the Rockets. “They’ve been through a lot and first of all, my condolences still to Kevin McHale and his family with what they’ve been through this year. It’s very sad, but this team never gives up. They had 140 points last night and tied the NBA record in 3s, so we knew we had to defend the 3, but we made enough plays down the stretch and got enough stops.”
McHale was away from the Rockets for nearly a month earlier this season after his 23-year-old daughter died of complications from Lupus.
Wednesday’s game had a distinct trend: Miami would try to take control, Houston would claw back.
And it held true all the way to the end.
Even with Miami up 12 with 6 minutes left, the Rockets had enough left for one more rally. Harden was fouled shooting a 3-pointer with 2:29 left, made all three shots, and the Rockets were within 104-101. Battier answered with a 3-pointer to restore Miami’s six-point edge, and a 3 from Harden got the Rockets within 109-106.
That’s when the Heat took charge — well, charges. And they were huge.
“You have to have great timing, great courage to put your body in there. But those were big,” Spoelstra said.
Wade and James both reached double digits in scoring by the end of the first quarter, with Miami ending the period up 32-30 after the teams shot a combined 63 percent. Houston, which was down by 10 in the first, used a 30-15 run to build a seven-point lead around the midpoint the second quarter, before the Heat closed the half on a 20-6 run to bring a seven-point lead into the locker room.
The third quarter was more of the same, with the Heat going on a big run, and Houston answering.
James, whose 13-for-14 effort from the field on Monday night came with him never venturing far from the rim to shoot — his average make that night being just over 3 feet in length — connected on three 3-pointers in the third. Two of them were in a 25-second span as the Heat opened on a 14-4 run that gave the reigning NBA champions a 77-60 lead.
And back came Houston.
The Rockets went on a 21-8 run to get within 87-83, and 3-pointer by Patterson opened the fourth-quarter scoring and cut Miami’s lead to three. Miami answered with an 11-2 run, but predictably, that wasn’t enough to put things away.
The Rockets had enough for one more run, and the Heat had enough to hang on one more time.
“They’re one of the toughest teams to guard,” Wade said. “To win this game, we had to get stops — key stops. And I thought we were able to do that.”
SPURS 104, TIMBERWOLVES 94
MINNEAPOLIS — Danny Green hit eight 3-pointers and scored a career-high 28 points to help San Antonio win its 11th straight game.
Tony Parker added 31 points and eight assists and Kawhi Leonard finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Spurs, who kept right on rolling without injured stars Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.
Nikola Pekovic had 21 points and 10 rebounds and Derrick Williams added 15 points and 12 boards for the Timberwolves, who added do-it-all forward Andrei Kirilenko (bruised right quadriceps) to a seemingly endless list of injured players.
THUNDER 119, WARRIORS 98
OKLAHOMA CITY — Kevin Durant scored 25 points, Russell Westbrook added 22 and Oklahoma City won consecutive games for the first time in nearly three weeks.
Playing on the second night of a back-to-back, the Warriors didn’t get settled in Oklahoma City until almost daybreak and it showed in the early going. The Thunder finally put it away with a 16-4 run to start the fourth quarter that featured 10 points from sixth man Kevin Martin.
That allowed coach Scott Brooks to go without Durant or Westbrook in the fourth quarter for the second straight game.
Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson had 19 points apiece for the Warriors. Golden State played without Andrew Bogut, who is still easing his way back from a left ankle injury, and Jarrett Jack was sidelined by a right shoulder contusion.
MAVERICKS 105, TRAIL BLAZERS 99
DALLAS — O.J. Mayo scored 28 points, Vince Carter hit a critical jumper in the final minute and Dallas gave coach Rick Carlisle his 500th career victory.
Mayo had 20 in the first half and was mostly quiet before getting two important baskets with Portland trying to rally late in the fourth quarter.
Carter put Dallas ahead 99-94 with a jumper just inside the 3-point line with the shot clock winding down.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 27 points and 10 rebounds a week after he beat the Mavericks at the buzzer in Portland.
WIZARDS 106, KNICKS 96
WASHINGTON — John Wall had 21 points and nine assists, Trevor Ariza scored 20 points and Washington Wizards broke New York’s five-game winning streak.
The Wizards also snapped New York’s 10-game winning streak over them.
Wall, playing in front of his college coach, John Calipari, and Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, scored 10 points in the fourth quarter as Washington took control.
New York never got closer than 97-92 with 2:57 to play and the Wizards pulled away at the end.
Martel Webster added 19 for Washington, which has won just 13 games, but has beaten five of the six NBA division leaders.
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 31 points. Amare Stoudemire scored 19 and Raymond Felton had 17.
CLIPPERS 86, MAGIC 76
ORLANDO, Fla. — Eric Bledsoe had 27 points, including 19 in the second half, and Los Angeles used a big third quarter to snap a three-game losing streak.
The Clippers won despite playing without their three top scorers in All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, and Jamal Crawford. Paul remains sidelined with a bruised right kneecap and Griffin sat with a strained hamstring. Crawford was out with a sore right shoulder.
Jameer Nelson scored 18 points to lead the Magic and Nikola Vucevic added 15 points and 13 rebounds.
CELTICS 99, RAPTORS 95
TORONTO — Kevin Garnett scored a season-high 27 points with 10 rebounds, Paul Pierce had 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Boston won its fifth straight game.
Courtney Lee added 15 points, Leandro Barbosa had 14, Avery Bradley 11 and Brandon Bass 10 as the Celtics remained unbeaten since losing guard Rajon Rondo to a season-ending knee injury.
Garnett scored 11 points in the fourth quarter as the Celtics rallied from a 10-point deficit to snap a two-game skid in Toronto. Boston had lost three of its last four in Canada.
The victory also ended a three-game road losing streak for the Celtics, who had dropped 11 of 14 away from home.
Andrea Bargnani returned after missing 26 games with a torn ligament in his right elbow to score 13 points for Toronto, while DeMar DeRozan also had 13, making 5 of 16 field goal attempts.
CAVALIERS 122, BOBCATS 95
CLEVELAND — Kyrie Irving scored 22 points in just three quarters, rookie Dion Waiters added 19 and Cleveland didn’t overlook a team with a worse record than its own.
The Cavaliers were coming off a stunning upset of Oklahoma City, one of the league’s best teams. It would have been easy to take the lowly Bobcats (11-37) for granted, but Cleveland came out energized from the start, built a 33-point lead after three quarters and sent Charlotte to its 11th loss in 13 games.
Tristan Thompson scored 17 for the young-and-improving Cavs, who are 8-9 since Jan. 1.
Byron Mullens scored 15 to pace Charlotte. Bobcats leading scorer Kemba Walker, averaging 17.8 points per game, had just five on 2-of-11 shooting.
PACERS 88, 76ERS 69
PHILADELPHIA — Roy Hibbert had 16 points and 13 rebounds to lead Central Division-leading Indiana to its third victory in three nights.
The Pacers showed no signs of weariness despite being the only team to play back-to-back-to-back games this season.
Paul George, George Hill and David West each scored 15 for the Pacers.
Indiana has won five in a row overall to move a season-best 12 games above .500. The Pacers snapped a three-game road losing streak and won for just the third time in 10 games away from home.
Jrue Holiday had 17 points for the Sixers, who saw their season-best three-game winning streak end.
HAWKS 103, GRIZZLIES 92
ATLANTA — Jeff Teague had 22 points and a season-high 13 assists, Josh Smith added 19 points and 11 rebounds and Atlanta snapped a two-game skid.
Al Horford added 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Hawks.
Zach Randolph scored 20 points and Mike Conley had 17 as the Grizzlies lost their second straight.
Atlanta played without No. 2 center Zaza Pachulia, veteran guard DeShawn Stevenson and swingman Anthony Morrow, but still held the Grizzlies to 26.3 percent shooting in the third quarter.
Memphis missed its first 13 shots from the field in the third before Randolph hit a 22-footer at the 6:26 mark, but the Grizzlies trailed by 19 and never recovered.
NETS 93, PISTONS 90
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Brook Lopez had 17 points, and Brooklyn won at Detroit for the first time since 2006.
Will Bynum’s tying 3-point attempt from the right corner was short in the final seconds.
Joe Johnson scored 16 points for Brooklyn, including two free throws with 8.8 seconds left that made it a three-point game.
Detroit led by 13 in the second quarter, but the Pistons were only ahead 46-40 at halftime, and they were held to 17 points in the fourth quarter. Greg Monroe led Detroit with 23 points.
The Nets had lost 10 in a row to the Pistons on the road.
Brooklyn improved to 18-1 when facing a team under .500.
HORNETS 93, SUNS 84
NEW ORLEANS — Greivis Vasquez scored 19 points, Al-Farouq Aminu added 16, and New Orleans snapped a four-game losing streak.
Vasquez, who scored 15 points in the first half, was 8 of 9 from the field and had 12 assists in his 19th double-double of the season.
Ryan Anderson added 14 points and Robin Lopez 11 for the Hornets, who were making a rare appearance in New Orleans Arena. Because of the Super Bowl this past week, the Hornets were playing only their second home game in the past eight and fourth in the past 13.
Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley each scored 14 points for the Suns, who came in off a win at Memphis on Tuesday night.
JAZZ 100, BUCKS 86
SALT LAKE CITY — Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson each scored 19 points, Enes Kanter had 17 and a career-high five blocks, and Utah dominated inside to earn the victory.
Kanter went 5 of 5 with five rebounds and a block during the second quarter when the Jazz took control after trailing by 12 in the first.
Utah was able to control inside despite being without the NBA’s leading shot blocker, Larry Sanders, because of a back injury. The Jazz held a 31-10 advantage on second-chance points and a 56-36 edge on points in the paint.
Jefferson and Derrick Favors led Utah with 11 rebounds apiece, and the Jazz had a 50-37 advantage on the boards.
Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova led Milwaukee with 17 points apiece