The Heat were well aware that the Houston Rockets came to AmericanAirlines Arena on Wednesday night with a fresh reminder of a warning label.
Miami heeded it, and earned a 114-108 victory.
The Rockets, who tied an NBA record with 23 3-pointers (in 40 attempts) in a Tuesday night home win against Golden State, were just 9-of-25 from long range against the Heat.
“They’ll launch ‘em,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It’s how they play. They’re the modern-day Phoenix Suns. It’s the fastest tempo in the league.”
Houston did make four triples in the fourth quarter, but Miami ended with more 3-pointers (10) in fewer attempts (23).
“We held them to 108 points,” Spoelstra joked in reference to the 140 the Rockets posted against Golden State. “That team can score. That’s what they do.”
The Heat coped with Houston, said no less an authority than LeBron James, by taking on the Rockets aggressively “at the point of attack.”
They did so, however, without center Chris Bosh, who was out with the flu. Shane Battier replaced him in the starting lineup as a forward, and Udonis Haslem moved to center.
The Rockets punished smallish Miami for its attention to perimeter detail by scoring 50 points in the paint, including 28 in the first half with an emphasis on drives or cross-court cuts to the rim.
“We knew we had to defend the 3,” James understated.
Miami got to the break with a 63-56 lead after a half every bit as fast-paced as the score suggests. The Heat got to that advantage with a 20-6 run to end the second quarter.
Miami then scored the first eight points of the second half — featuring two triples by James — to scoot to a 15-point lead.
“They dared me to shoot the ball. I can shoot,” said James, who was 11-of-18 from the field and hit three triples in six tries.