Miami Heat: James Johnson is finding his way back and more

The Miami Heat's James Johnson drives to the basket against the Houston Rockets' Chris Paul (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
The Miami Heat's James Johnson drives to the basket against the Houston Rockets' Chris Paul (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images) /

The Miami Heat walked away with a hard-earned 101-99 victory over the Houston Rockets on Thursday night.

After a long road trip out west, the Miami Heat couldn’t wait to get back home; and last night, it showed.

Earning themselves an 101-99 win over the Houston Rockets on Thursday evening, the team came out swinging, willing to stop at nothing until they got the job done.

Their strategies weren’t always pretty, but they were effective. The Heat now sit at 14-16 on the season, a record that ties with the No. 8 Orlando Magic, and is just one game behind the No. 7 Charlotte Hornets.

So does this mark the turnaround point of 2018-19 play?

(After all, Miami did just land its very first victory in those fresh Vice Nights jerseys.)

Fingers crossed.

What third quarter woes?

Generally speaking, third quarters don’t go so well for the Heat.

However, this wasn’t the case against the Rockets; in large part thanks to James Johnson.

The forward totaled 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting from the field in the third, finishing the matchup with 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and a steal, in 18 minutes of play. And while it’s certainly been a rocky road back for the 31-year-old, who underwent surgery last summer to correct a sports hernia, it’s clear that slowly but surely, he’s returning to his prior form.

So far this year, Johnson is averaging 7.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists over 15 contests, in 19.9 minutes of play. This is compared to his 10.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game in 26.6 minutes, in 2017-18.

Baby steps.

Catch flight, not feelings

Derrick Jones Jr. touched down in South Beach last night, continuing to show Heat Nation what he’s made of.

After scoring seven points and grabbing 11 rebounds in the December 8 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, the 21-year-old went on to demand attention for the duration of the team’s road trip.

He recorded 13 points on 6-for-10 shooting, alongside eight rebounds against the Memphis Grizzlies, and 11 points (going 5-of-7 from the floor) and eight rebounds versus the New Orleans Pelicans.

As for his performance against Houston?

Jones finished with 15 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals.

And yes, that included some nasty dunks.

It’s safe to say the second-year has arrived.

The #Dance continues

As heartbreaking as Dwyane Wade‘s retirement is about to be, his #OneLastDance tour has been nothing short of spectacular.

Averaging 14.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists a contest in 25.5 minutes of play, the veteran has been putting on a show, night in and night out; between the pump-fakes, running floaters, dunks and even 3-point makes, the 36-year-old has brought Flash, Vintage Wade and Father Prime alive, all at once.

And despite not having the best shooting night, Thursday was no different.

Wade totaled 10 points, two rebounds, three assists and one steal, fully embracing the team’s return to the AmericanAirlines Arena.

The tour continues.

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The Miami Heat will host the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, December 22 at 8 PM ET.