"At least it wasn't 60," the Miami Heat coach said.
Indeed, Harden produced his 13th triple-double of the season, but it wasn't enough as Miami upset the Houston Rockets 109-103 on Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Harden had 40 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. But the Heat made him work, forcing him into six turnovers and holding him to 12-of-30 shooting, including 4-of-15 on 3-point attempts.
"All you can do is make him earn it and take away some of the easy ones," Spoelstra said of Harden, who did make 12 of 13 from the foul line. "He is as offensively skilled as any player in this league. It is tough to rattle him."
"Eric was banged up, so he couldn't get in rhythm," Harden said of Gordon, who made just 3 of 17 shots, 1 of 10 from 3-point range. "We got open shots. We just missed them."
While Houston had its struggles and got more than one-third of its offense from Harden, Miami had six players score in double figures, ranging between 14 and 21 points.
Point guard Goran Dragic put up 21 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for Miami, which went on a 20-3 run in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
The Heat, who broke a four-game losing streak, also held down a prolific Houston offense that ranks second in the NBA in scoring.
Miami (12-30) is just 2-10 in its past 12 games and owns the second-worst record in the NBA. In addition, the Heat are just 6-13 at home this season.
"Tonight we did an amazing job," Dragic said. "The Rockets are one of the best teams in the NBA. They play really well. I'm glad we won this game, but we need to get better."
Perhaps the result should not be a total shock, given the Rockets' recent record here. Houston (32-12) has lost seven of its past eight games at Miami.
Houston, by virtue of its 57.1 percent shooting in the first quarter, got off to a good start, grabbing a 32-27 lead after the first quarter. Miami shot 44.4 percent in the quarter.
The Rockets cooled off in the second quarter, shooting 41.3 percent. Miami, which shot 45.8 percent, surged ahead, leading by as many as seven points.
However, after seven first-half lead changes and a stretch in which the Rockets missed 16 of 19 shots, the teams went into their locker rooms tied 53-53. Harden led all first-half scorers with 15 points, but Miami had a 34-24 advantage in paint points.
The teams were tied 79-79 after three quarters before the Heat surprisingly took over in the fourth, sending Houston to its third loss in the past four games.
Houston shot just 40 percent from the floor for the game and scored 12 points below its average.
"We got the stops we needed," Rockets guard Patrick Beverley said. "It wasn't about defense. Tied game at the end of the third quarter -- (Miami) just played better."
Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni credited the Heat, who shot 46.7 percent from the floor.
"Their athleticism smothered us," he said of the Heat. "They took the fight to us, and we didn't bounce back."
NOTES: With Ryan Anderson out due to an illness, Houston moved SF Trevor Ariza to power forward. Corey Brewer came off the bench to start at small forward. Ariza and Brewer combined for 19 points and nine rebounds. ... Rockets C Clint Capela, who had been out since Dec. 17 with a foot injury, returned to the starting lineup. He finished scoreless in nine minutes. ... Miami is missing several players: SG Josh Richardson (foot), SF Justice Winslow (shoulder), PF Chris Bosh (blood clots) and PF Josh McRoberts (foot). ... Due to the amount of injuries, the NBA allowed Miami to sign a 16th player: 6-foot-8 forward Okaro White, a former Florida State standout. White was cut by Miami in the preseason but was averaging 18.0 points and 8.9 rebounds in the NBA Development League. ... This was Miami's first home game since Jan. 1. It was also the start of a four-game Heat homestand that continues Thursday against the Dallas Mavericks. ... Houston returns home to face the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.