MIAMI — The Miami Heat, led by LeBron James’s 32 points, ended Houston’s slim NBA playoff hopes with a 97-88 victory over the Rockets.
The Heat were without stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, Wade sidelined by a dislocated left index finger suffered on Saturday in a loss to lowly Washington.
Bosh rested his weary legs and Mario Chalmers missed the game with flu-like symptoms.
In their absence, James contributed eight rebounds and five assists and Norris Cole chipped in 16 points as the Heat rallied from a double-digit first-half deficit for the victory in their last home game of the regular season.
With Houston’s season on the line, Chandler Parsons scored a career-high 23 points and Goran Dragic added 16 but the Rockets couldn’t hold off the reigning Eastern Conference champions.
The Heat, who still have a slim chance of overtaking Chicago atop the Eastern Conference, travel to Boston on Tuesday before closing the regular season at Washington on Thursday.
Houston’s elimination from playoff contention leaves Utah and Phoenix battling for the eighth and final Western Conference post-season berth.