MIAMI (AP) — Udonis Haslem didn’t play a single second for the Miami Heat on Sunday night.
Instead, he dominated halftime.
Haslem’s fiery speech – replete with some profanity from the tri-captain and a couple bottles getting angrily spiked into the red locker room carpeting for emphasis – led to a Miami turnaround, the Heat outscoring Houston by 41 points in the final 23 minutes and rolling past the Houston Rockets 109-89.
“Absolutely awesome,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said about the speech. “That’s what leaders do. By the time I got in there, he was already halfway through it and there wasn’t much that was needed to be said after that.”
Miami was down 65-44 early in the second half. The Heat outscored Houston 65-24 the rest of the way.
“At times, I can be kind of harsh,” Haslem said. “But it’s harsh reality … and it just comes out the way it comes out.”
Said Heat guard Dwyane Wade: “It was all bleep, bleep, bleep.”
Hassan Whiteside had 25 points and 15 rebounds, Wade scored 20 points and Luol Deng scored 14 for Miami – which enjoyed its biggest comeback win since a 27-point rally at Cleveland late in the 2012-13 championship season. Tyler Johnson scored 11, Chris Bosh had all 10 of his in the fourth and Justise Winslow added 10 for the Heat.
Marcus Thornton scored 21 points for Houston, and James Harden had 16 on 2 for 15 shooting – 0 for 10 from 3-point range. The Rockets have dropped each of their first three games by exactly 20 points each.
“You can’t have a stagnant offense and not get stops,” Harden said. “That’s a sign of disaster, which happened in the second half.”
Dwight Howard sat out to rest on the first night of a back-to-back. He’s expected to play when the Rockets host Oklahoma City on Monday night.
“We have not played well all preseason. We have not played well in the first three games,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “No one feels sorry for us. We just have got to go out and find our rhythm and keep on playing.”
HARDEN IN MIAMI
There is something about Miami that doesn’t bring out the best in Harden.
He struggled in two NCAA Tournament games at AmericanAirlines Arena, endured plenty of rough moments in three NBA Finals games there with Oklahoma City in 2012, and the regular-season hasn’t always been kind to him in Miami either.
Harden is now 44 for 117 in Miami as a pro, and 20 for 65 from 3-point land. His two NCAA games were even worse, with him shooting 3 for 18, 1 for 8 from 3-point range and scoring 19 points in two games.