7:00 PM ET, February 21, 2008
Toyota Center, Houston, TX
HOUSTON (AP) -- The Houston Rockets' 10th straight win was somewhat bittersweet.
Earlier in the day, the Rockets learned Mike James and Bonzi Wells were traded to New Orleans for Bobby Jackson and Adam Haluska and that Kirk Snyder was sent to Minnesota in exchange for Gerald Green.
"Everything happens for a reason and we've got to understand that this is a business," Carl Landry said. "We've got to be positive about the situation and try to go on and continue the winning streak."
Houston has won 14 of its last 15 games and the winning streak is its longest since the championship season of 1993-94 when the team opened with 15 straight. It is the fourth time in team history that the Rockets have had a double-digit winning streak.
They won't have to wait long to see two of their old friends as they meet West-leading New Orleans on Friday night.
"We lost a couple of guys that were well-liked around here, well liked in the locker room," Rafer Alston said. "That's the business side of basketball, but you've got to go out there and play."
Miami, the NBA's worst team playing in its first game since the All-Star break, has just nine wins and has lost 25 of its last 26 games.
The Rockets led comfortably most of the way and were ahead by 11 before Carl Landry wowed the crowd by putting his arms out as if he were flying on his way down from a dunk that made it 98-85 midway through the fourth quarter. Landry had 19 points.
The Heat wouldn't threaten again after that play.
"We dug a hole that was too deep and it is hard to come back," Marion said. "We had to exert so much energy in the comeback and we ran out of gas."
McGrady, who had 10 assists, got back on track after struggling with poor shooting in his last five games to post his first 20-point game since Feb. 4.
The Heat went on a 10-4 run, capped by a 3-pointer by Marion, to open the third quarter and cut it to 66-58. The Rockets reeled off five straight points to push their lead to 13 at 71-58 with about 7 minutes left in the quarter.
Miami cut the lead to eight points two more times in the third, but each time the Rockets answered with a small run to get the advantage back into double digits.
The Heat's ineptitude was on display in the second quarter when after a steal, Luther Head found a wide-open McGrady for the alley-oop dunk that pushed Houston's lead to 48-29 about eight minutes before halftime.
Wade crashed into Shane Battier in the lane on a layup attempt with about three minutes left in the second quarter and came up from the collision limping on his surgically repaired left knee. Battier was called with the foul.
He appeared OK after a time-out and made both free throws.
The scare had to have been a bit of deja vu for Wade as it was the one-year anniversary of a collision in Houston with Battier that separated his left shoulder. Wade was taken off the court in a wheelchair in tears in that one and missed the rest of the season and the early part of this one. It was his first return to Houston since the injury.
"I'm just thankful that I am not going to have to see him again this year," Wade said. "So hopefully I can stay healthy."
Houston led by as many as 20 in the second quarter and were up 62-48 at halftime.
The Rockets led 41-26 after the first quarter thanks to 14 points by McGrady, who was 6-of-8 with five assists. Alston added 11 points and six assists in the first quarter as the Rockets shot 81 percent to open the game and help Houston to a season-high for points in a quarter.
Alston finished with 16 points and 11 assists.
"We got off to a real bad start," said Heat coach Pat Riley. "They were really hyped up and really prepared to play. We made a good run but we were constantly climbing up a hill all game."
The Rockets had held their last seven opponents to less than 90 points. ... It was the 19th time McGrady has had double-digit assists with the Rockets.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||38-80 (.475)||42-78 (.538)|
|3PM-3PA||7-14 (.500)||9-23 (.391)|
|FTM-FTA||17-27 (.630)||19-27 (.704)|
|Fast Break Points||18||10|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||17 (1/0)||20 (1/0)|