|Miami Heat forward Shane Battier (31) drives against Houston Rockets forward Marcus Morris during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 22, 2012, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)|
James, Heat win home finale over Houston, 97-88
MIAMI—LeBron James had 32 points and eight rebounds, Norris Cole added 16 points and the Miami Heat pulled away in the final minutes to beat Houston 97-88 on Sunday night and eliminate the Rockets from postseason contention.
Mike Miller scored 11 for injury-depleted Miami, which still has a mathematical chance of catching Chicago for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Joel Anthony added 11 for the Heat on 5-for-5 shooting.
Chandler Parsons scored a career-high 23 for Houston, which led by as many as 13 in the first half. Parsons tied the game at 83 with a layup late in the fourth, before James' 3-pointer sparked an 8-0 run that put Miami in control.
Goran Dragic scored 16, while Courtney Lee and Patrick Patterson had 14 apiece for the Rockets. Luis Scola scored 12.
The Heat played without starters Dwyane Wade (dislocated left index finger), Chris Bosh (leg muscle fatigue) and Mario Chalmers (flulike symptoms). Backup center Ronny Turiaf missed his seventh straight game while recovering from a hamstring problem.
It's unclear if Wade -- who after getting hurt on Saturday said he will be ready for Game 1 of the playoffs next weekend -- will play in either of Miami's two remaining regular-season games, at Boston on Tuesday and at Washington on Thursday.
Miami would like to have Bosh and Turiaf back for at least a portion of that road trip, and Chalmers is listed as day-to-day. He was a late scratch from Miami's starting lineup on Sunday.
So it was yet another pieced-together starting lineup that Miami sent to open the game, the 16th different one for the Heat this season -- and their seventh in their last seven games.
And things didn't start well.
The Heat missed their first six shots and trailed 23-10 after Scola made a hook shot with 3:54 left in the opening quarter. Houston's lead was still double digits at 38-28 with 6:59 remaining until halftime, before Miami used a 17-6 run to take a one-point lead at intermission. Miller's 3-pointer with 25 seconds left gave the Heat their first -- and only -- lead of the half, 45-44.
Parsons had his second-best scoring quarter of the season in the third, finishing with 12 of Houston's 25 as the Rockets took a 69-66 lead into the fourth. Back and forth it went, the game being tied on four separate occasions in the final quarter, the last of those coming when Parsons drove on James for a layup and his 23rd point, setting the season best for the rookie.
On the next possession, James took aim from the left wing and hit a 3-pointer over Parsons to put Miami up for good. And after a steal by Shane Battier, Miller added another 3 from the right corner 24 seconds later to give the Heat what was then their biggest lead at 89-83.
Playing back in his home state for the first time as a pro, Parsons finished 10 for 13 from the floor. He spent four seasons at Florida, appearing in 142 games and averaging 10.2 points before the Rockets grabbed him in the second round of last year's draft.
NOTES: Miami finished the regular season 28-5 at home, the second-best percentage in team history. The Heat will finish no worse than tied for the NBA lead in home wins this season. ... Houston's Kyle Lowry did not play and is expected to sit the Rockets' regular-season finale against New Orleans as well. He missed 15 games after the All-Star break because of a bacterial infection and struggled since returning. ... Udonis Haslem had a game-high 11 rebounds for Miami.