Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 12/16

Game 1: Monday, December 16th
Game 2: Friday, February 14th

Heat 94

(18-33, 7-18 away)

Rockets 82


    7:30 PM ET, February 14, 2003

    1 2 3 4 T
    MIA 26 30 14 2494
    HOU 18 23 20 2182

    Top Performers

    Mia: C. Butler 24 Pts, 3 Reb, 2 Stl

    Hou: S. Francis 27 Pts, 6 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 Stl

    Heat shoot 51 percent, never trail in Houston

    HOUSTON (AP) -- Scoring hasn't been the Miami Heat's forte this season. That didn't keep them from giving the Houston Rockets a lesson in shooting.

     Caron Butler

    Caron Butler scored 24 points as the Heat hit 51 percent of their shots and held off a late charge by the Rockets for a 94-82 victory Friday night.

    "That was one of our best games in a long time,'' Heat coach Pat Riley said. "From beginning to end, we played well. There were times when we did struggle. We were able to tough it out and make the stops. It was a good win against a very good team.''

    The Heat ranks next to last in league scoring this season, but they were never behind in the game although the Rockets rallied briefly in the third quarter after trailing 56-41 at the half.

    The Rockets eased back into the game despite their continued poor shooting and cut Miami's lead to 68-61 with 3:47 left in the quarter. But the Heat held on for a 70-61 lead to start the fourth.

    They won without Eddie Jones, who has a groin injury and remained in Miami for treatment.

    "Coach said for me to be ready to attack tonight,'' Butler said. "I got the ball and I took it to the rack. We're missing Eddie Jones right now so the offense has to go through me.

    "Tonight my teammates did an excellent job of getting me the ball in a position to do something with it. I was just making shots. We did an excellent job of executing our offense.''

    The Rockets got it down to seven again at 75-68 with 6:55 to go on a 3-point basket by Terrence Morris and again with 1:22 to go on Cuttino Mobley's 3-point basket to make it 87-80.

    Riley was pleased with Butler's performance.

    "He played great,'' Riley said. "We're going to go to him. He's really matured, and after 50 games into the season, it's time for him to step up like he did.''

    Steve Francis scored 27 points for the Rockets, who hit only 33 percent from the field. Yao Ming and Mobley each had 10 points for the Rockets and Mike James and Travis Best each had 15 points for the Heat.

    "They beat us, it was an old fashion butt kicking but at the same time we beat ourselves by not playing hard from the beginning,'' Francis said.

    Butler, who finished one point short of his career high, had 10 points in the first quarter. James came off the bench and scored 10 second-quarter points. He scored all 10 points in the first five minutes of the period as the Heat pulled away to their big halftime lead.

    Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich was so upset, he called a team meeting immediately after the game.

    "We had a little meeting,'' Tomjanovich said. "We talked about a lot of things but not one player personally took it on themselves. Everyone was talking about other players.

    "The only way it's going to get changed is if each guy takes it upon himself. It's some kind of syndrome and I think most of it is mental. Thinking about somebody else's problems is not going to get it done.''

    Game notes
    The Rockets are 21-6 when leading at halftime. ... Caron Butler ranks second among league rookies in scoring and Yao Ming is third. ... Rockets forward Glen Rice hopes to come off the injured list with a strained left shoulder in time for Tuesday's game at the Los Angeles Lakers.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 94 82
    FGM-FGA 34-66 (.515) 26-79 (.329)
    3PM-3PA 3-5 (.600) 4-21 (.190)
    FTM-FTA 23-30 (.767) 26-40 (.650)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 5-37 19-49
    Assists 14 10
    Turnovers 10 8
    Steals 5 6
    Blocks 3 2
    Fast Break Points 1 1
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 31 (2/0) 24 (1/0)

    Top Performers

    Caron Butler Butler
    Points: 24
    Reb: 3
    Ast: 0
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0
    Steve Francis Francis
    Points: 27
    Reb: 6
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 0