Rockets look to exorcise demons vs. Heat

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Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni figures he doesn’t need to remind his players what happened the last time they were on the court with the Miami Heat.

The score — 129-100 — pretty much says it all.

The Rockets will look to deliver some payback — and at the same time halt their current three-game losing streak — when they host the Heat on Wednesday.

The Nov. 3 meeting in Miami was so one-sided that the Heat led 59-18 just 16 minutes into the game.

The first-quarter point differential of 32 — Miami led 46-14 — was the third biggest in the NBA’s shot-clock era, which began with the 1954-55 season.

No wonder D’Antoni doesn’t want to spend much time reliving what went wrong.

“I don’t think we have to,” D’Antoni told reporters on Tuesday. “I think they do know that. We addressed the mistakes we made, especially defensively, so we can be better at it.”

The Heat were discussing the result on Tuesday, but they weren’t reminiscing about the convincing rout.

Miami feels the Rockets haven’t forgotten being embarrassed so badly and will come out blazing in the rematch.

“They’re a great basketball team that wants to win games, have home-court advantage and do something in the playoffs,” Heat big man Kelly Olynyk told reporters. “They’re playing for a lot more than just to get revenge on us, but they’re not going to take anyone lightly, especially after we beat them. They’re gonna be ready to rock, and we have to be able to match that.”

Heat forward Meyers Leonard said Houston won’t be lacking for motivation.

“That’s a competitor’s spirit,” Leonard said. “They’re starting to get into a bit of a rhythm. Obviously (James) Harden is playing at an MVP-level once again and is very good at not only creating shots for himself, but for others.”

Similar to the Miami debacle, the Rockets got off to a poor start in Sunday’s 137-123 home loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

Dallas racked up 45 points and led by 16 when the first quarter concluded and led 78-60 at halftime while cruising to the win.

Mavericks star Luka Doncic scored 41 points and Tim Hardaway poured in a season-best 31 as Houston’s defense was routinely carved up.

Asked what the Rockets did wrong on defense, Harden’s answer began with this word: “Everything.”

“We allowed them to do whatever they wanted to do from the beginning of the game and when you give a team like that comfort … they gain confidence,” Harden told reporters. “And that’s what they did.”

Harden had 32 points and 11 assists against Dallas but was just 2-of-15 from 3-point range.

Harden scored 29 points in the first meeting with Miami, one of four times he failed to reach 30 this season. He leads the NBA with a 37.9 scoring average.

Houston center Clint Capela (illness) is listed as questionable for the contest. Capela has been cleaning up as a rebounder by collecting 20 or more in six of the past seven games and averaging 20.4 during the span.

Miami has won six of its past seven games and also has an ill player in small forward Jimmy Butler. His availability hasn’t yet been determined.

Butler scored 21 points in Monday’s 117-100 home win over the Charlotte Hornets.

The Heat do appear to have a solid chance of having forward Justise Winslow on the floor. He missed the past nine games with a concussion and 11 of the last 12 overall, the first two due to back spasms.

“It was a good day for him,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters after Tuesday’s practice. “We shouldn’t expect him to be in perfect rhythm, but it’s just great to have him back out there. He was able to go through quite a bit of work and we’ll see how he feels (Wednesday).”

The Heat have lost five of their past six visits to Houston.

–Field Level Media

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