The ingredients for a clunker were there. The Miami Heat arrived in Houston during the early morning hours, immediately after an emotional victory, to play one of the Western Conference’s top teams.
After a lethargic three quarters in which they fell behind by 15 points, the Heat rallied to tie the score in the fourth quarter before losing 106-103 to the Rockets on Tuesday night.
The defeat snapped Miami’s eight-game winning streak.
LeBron James, who scored a career-high and team-record 61 points in Monday’s home win against Charlotte, had 22 points and six assists. His 3-pointer at the final horn hit off the backboard and rim before bouncing away.
James had just three points in the second half, when he shot 1 of 7.
The Heat were 7 of 27 (25.9 percent) from 3-point range and 20 of 29 (69 precent) from the free-throw line — signs of players lacking leg strength on the second of back-to-back games.
Michael Beasley and Dwyane Wade each had 24 points for the Heat (43-15), who failed to move into a tie in the loss column with East-leading Indiana, who lost at home to Golden State.
Beasley scored 13 fourth-quarter points to fuel Miami’s late rally. Beasley scored 13 fourth-quarter points to fuel Miami’s late rally. He sank 9 of 13 shots overall, including 4 of 7 from long distance.
Wade, who rested his knees and did not play against the Bobcats, shot 8 of 15 and had six assists.
Center Greg Oden, another player with knees to protect, was inactive after playing Monday. Too bad, it would have been fun to see the 7-footer oppose Rockets big man Dwight Howard, if only for a few minutes.
Howard had 22 points and 16 rebounds to lead five starters who scored in double figures for the Rockets (41-19).
The Heat fell behind by 15 points with 2 minutes, 54 seconds left in the third quarter, then tied the score at 89 with 7:39 remaining in the fourth.