After losing eight of their first nine games that were decided by five points or fewer, the Miami Heat have won back-to-back games in such fashion.
And, for a second straight game, Eddie House was a key contributor late in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 103-102 with 22 seconds to play, LeBron James opted not to take an open three-pointer. Instead he passed the ball to his right where House was unguarded and drained a three to give Miami the lead for good. Give credit to James for not taking the three. While he shoots threes at a 35.7 percent clip, House is much better from behind the arc at 43.5 percent. (Before Sunday, House had missed both his three-point attempts this season when Miami was trailing by three points or fewer with less than 24 seconds to play.)
On Friday, House scored 11 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, and four of the Heat's final five points -- including two free throws with six seconds to play that put the Heat up 88-87, which was the final score.
OKC FG vs Heat, Inside 5 Feet
In the first quarter, Oklahoma City scored 18 points from within five feet of the basket. The Heat did a much better job in those situations in the final 36 minutes.
James had 13 assists, one shy of his season high, and finished 7-of-14 from the floor against the Thunder. Sunday was the first time in James’ last eight games that he took fewer than 23 shots. Only once in his career has James taken at least 23 field goal attempts in eight straight games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Thunder struggled in their half-court offense, but that shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. The Heat entered the game holding opponents to 40.6 percent shooting in the half court, which ranks second in the NBA. The Thunder were shooting 43.5 percent in their half-court offense, but shot just 36.6 percent against the Heat.
In Sunday’s other marquee matchup, the Celtics shot 60.3 percent from the field in their 109-96 road win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Not only was that the fourth time this season that Boston shot at least 60 percent from the field (most in the NBA), but it was the highest field goal percentage by a Lakers opponent this season.
Paul Pierce scored a team-high 32 points for the Celtics. He’s now averaging 26.0 points per game against the Lakers, the highest average of his career against one opponent.
Despite having just one assist at halftime, Rajon Rondo finished with 16. It was his 11th 15-assist game of the season, only Steve Nash has more with 13 (entering his game Sunday against the Hornets). Rondo scored or assisted on 49 points, and 43 of them were in the second half.
The Lakers finished with a season-low 10 assists, including none from Kobe Bryant, who matched his season-high with 41 points. He’s the only player this season to score 40 in a game and not have an assist, and it was the third such game of his career. The 10 assists, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, are their fewest in a home game since Oct. 25, 1960. That was the Lakers' second home game after moving from Minneapolis to Los Angeles.
Bryant took 29 of the Lakers' 66 field goal attempts (43.9 percent) while he was on the floor. This was the 10th game this season that Bryant took more than 40 percent of the Lakers' shots while on the court. In those 10 games, the Lakers are 3-7. Los Angeles is much better when Bryant shoots a smaller percent of the team's shots while on the court. The Lakers are 23-5 when Bryant takes less than 35 percent of the team's shots when on the floor.