Rockets lose game to Heat and Paul to injury

MIAMI (Florida) • Houston Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni has confirmed that Chris Paul will be out indefinitely, after the point guard suffered a left hamstring strain during the 101-99 loss to the Miami Heat on Thursday night.

The Rockets, who had their five-game National Basketball Association winning streak snapped, were coming off an 18-point victory over Washington on Wednesday in which they set a single-game record with 26 three-pointers.

They were leading 45-37 in the second quarter in Miami's American Airlines Arena when Paul, diving to regain control of the ball, clutched his left thigh and left the game quickly.

"It'll be some time," D'Antoni said, when asked about the player's expected return.

Paul, who is averaging 15.6 points, eight assists and four rebounds per game this season, had four points, four assists and one board in 12 minutes before leaving.

According to ESPN, he has sat out 19 games (regular season and post-season combined) due to five hamstring injuries in his career.

The defeat and injury were a double blow for a Rockets team that had looked to be turning the corner after a slow start to the season. With five straight wins, they had risen from 14th to seventh in the West in the space of a week.

But the loss of Paul could prove particularly damaging.

During the Western Conference Finals last season, he strained his right hamstring in Game 5 with Houston up 3-2. The Golden State Warriors then won Games 6 and 7 to advance to the NBA Finals.

"It's part of the game," star guard James Harden said of adjusting to life without the 33-year-old Paul.

"You've got to figure it out. Injuries happen - opportunities for other guys to step up, keep going."

He led the Rockets (16-15) with 35 points, 12 assists and six rebounds and Eric Gordon added 20.

Josh Richardson led the Heat (14-16) with 22 points alongside Tyler Johnson's 19.

Harden added: "We gave them a lot of second chances... (that) kept them in the game and they made big shots in the end."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2018, with the headline 'Rockets lose game to Heat and Paul to injury'. Print Edition | Subscribe