The Miami Heat faced one of the worst teams in the Houston Rockets on Monday. The Rockets were also shorthanded without a couple of key players. Still, they gave Miami fits early with their dribble penetration. The Heat were down by 13 in the first half. Then Miami made a late run to lead by four at halftime. Miami kept the lead going from there and never let the Rockets reclaim the lead back. With the win, Miami moves to 44-22 for the regular season. Here are four takeaways from Monday’s win over Houston.
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Houston Causing Problems Early
Sometimes when bad teams come to town, it’s easy to overlook them and play down to the competition. It appeared as if Miami did that early. Jalen Green kicked things off by knocking down four early three-pointers. His teammate Kevin Porter Jr. also was a thorn on the Heat’s defense. As a team, the Rockets were easily getting by the primary defender and collapsing the Heat’s defense. They either got wide-open shots from downtown or found an open teammate in the paint. This was not the defense we were accustomed to seeing from Miami. The Rockets ended up scoring 58 points in the first half.
It’s almost been a year since Victor Oladipo appeared on a basketball court. On Monday, Oladipo made his season debut. The first play he made was drawing a charge on a Rockets player. He later scored his first bucket from downtown. If there was any question about Oladipo’s explosiveness, he quieted that talk on one play in the fourth quarter. He went by his defender and threw down a one-handed dunk. Oladipo also displayed some of his playmaking skills. With Oladipo in the rotation, both Gabe Vincent and Max Strus were left out of it. Oladipo ended with 11 points and four assists in 15 minutes of action.
Herro’s Strong Second Quarter
The Heat really needed a spark in the first half. They were sluggish offensively and their defense was a step slow. The Rockets were getting anything they wanted and had built up a double-digit lead. Then, Tyler Herro took over the second quarter. After going scoreless in the first period, Herro scored 21 points on 8-9 shooting from the field in the second period. He was making things happen for Miami on the offensive end. He kept attacking the defender and scoring from all areas of the floor. Since the break, Herro seems to be taking another leap in his development, and it’s a joy to watch. He finished the night with 31 points.
Jimmy Being Jimmy
If it wasn’t for Herro’s huge second quarter, we probably would’ve been talking about Jimmy Butler more. Like Herro, Butler played a part in Miami’s comeback. As usual, Butler kept attacking the paint and drawing fouls. He was finishing well around the rim and consistently provided rim pressure all night. With Butler being strong on the interior, the Heat used him as a roller in pick-and-roll actions. Overall, it was just a typical Butler night. There was nothing flashy about his game at all. But he’s still able to get to the paint and draw fouls, and that’s huge for Miami’s offense. Butler finished the night with 21 points and seven rebounds.
Next up: The Phoenix Suns. The game tips off at 7:30 pm eastern.
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