Heat, LeBron run out of gas, fall 106-103 to Rockets

Exhaustion became a factor Tuesday for LeBron James and the Heat. (George Bridges, MCT)

   Monday night, LeBron James couldn't miss the shots he had no business attempting.

   Tuesday night, the one he needed most wasn't particularly close.

   No, there was nothing close to 61 points this time, a night after he put together that franchise-record total in a blowout victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.


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   This time there were only 22, when the Miami Heat could have used 25, James last-second 3-point attempt over the outstretched hands of center Dwight Howard clanging away in a 106-103 loss to the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center.

    "It just wasn't there for me. I got out of rhythm," James said, summing up both the finish and his 9-of-18 night from the field.

    Rockets coach Kevin McHale knew who wasn't going to beat him.

    "We loaded up on LeBron as much as we can," he said.

    This was such a different storyline than Monday that the final play actually was set up just as much for a look from Ray Allen or Michael Beasley, who emerged from oblivion to scored 24 points in 28 minutes off the bench.

     But for a 48-hour period, James was the focus and it didn't change at Tuesday's moment of truth.

    "I came off and if I had a good look at it, I could take it," he said. "The second option was D-Wade setting a flare [screen] for Ray. They took it away. And then the last option was going to Bease on the back side. They took that away, as well.

     "So, I got the switch from Dwight. Obviously, I'm going to have to put up a heave up over the top of him. I felt like I had a good look, just a little long."

    Even with Dwyane Wade returning from Monday's mandated knee-maintenance rest to score 24 points, the Heat essentially ran out of gas, the Heat's eight-game winning streak now history.

   "The train goes on," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We have to collect ourselves, get some rest, and get ready for a tough game [Thursday night] in San Antonio."

   This time, the schedule bit back.

   Monday night at AmericanAirlines Arena, there was the relentlessness of LeBron., few talking note that the Charlotte Bobcats were playing a night after losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

   Tuesday night, it was the Heat lumbering into the buzz-saw of the hottest team in the Western Conference, one that now has won 12 of its last 14, as well as the last 18 when it has scored 100 or more.

   Idle since Saturday night and eager to make a statement, the Rockets pounced on the Heat at the outset, came out with a similar edge in the third quarter, offered another late blow, and it ultimately proved to be too much.

    With Beasley making a late 3-pointer and the Rockets following up by throwing the ball out of bounds for their 18th and final turnover, the Heat had a chance down three with 13 seconds left.

    But that's when James tried to size up Howard, with his 3-point attempt off, no hero role this time, instead just a 1-of-7 second half from the field.

    ''I fought through it in the first half," James said. "Second half it just wasn't there for me."