One hundred seconds.
Three offensive rebounds.
One game-defining possession.
The Nets wanted to slow it down and play it physical inside. Brooklyn succeeded in that task most of the night, but the Heat was simply better at the Nets’ own game when it mattered most.
In a grind-it-out Game 2 that played exactly to the Nets’ game plan, the Heat was the team that made the hustle plays in crunch time and extended its postseason winning streak to six games with a 94-82 victory on Thursday at AmericanAirlines Arena. The Heat now leads the Eastern Conference semifinal series 2-0 with Saturday’s Game 3 and Monday’s Game 4 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
The Heat closed out the game with a 15-5 run that spanned the final six minutes. A three-pointer by Mario Chalmers sealed the victory with 56.6 seconds left. The defining sequence of the game was a series of three consecutive offensive rebounds by the Heat that drained 100 seconds off the clock and ended with layup by LeBron James with 1:59 to play.
“That’s just us making plays and guys doing a great job of penetrating and us just turning it around,” said Dwyane Wade, who feed James with an assist to cap off the possession. “With nine minutes in the fourth we said, listen, we needed to get those 50-50 balls and we have to win these last nine minutes, and we were able to do that.”
Said Ray Allen: “It was pure hustle.”
Of course, the view was much different from the Nets’ bench.
“That one hurt,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said. “We were right there.”
Said Nets forward Joe Johnson: “That was a killer. It was almost like we didn’t have the energy or effort down the stretch.”
Allen had the first offensive rebound, Wade was next and Chris Bosh fought inside for another moments later. The extended possession led to a quick pass inside from Wade to James, who finished with a layup to give the Heat its 10-point lead.
James finished with 22 points, going 9 of 18 from the field. Five players for the Heat scored in double figures for the second game in a row in this best-of-7 series. Bosh had 18 points, going 7 of 13 from the field. Wade had 14 points, and Allen had 13 off the bench.
Wade led the Heat with eight points in the fourth quarter. The Heat led 69-67 entering the final period.
“We don’t really care who scores,” James said. “We put guys in position to succeed at the highest level.”
Wade, who grew stronger throughout the game, played the entire fourth quarter. It was a positive sign for Wade, who was struggled with knee soreness during the 2013 postseason and sat out 28 games this season to rest his legs for the playoffs.
“He finds a way and the winning time — his best quarter was the fourth quarter,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Chalmers had 11 points and five assists and was 2 of 3 from three-point range. Perhaps more importantly considering the tempo of the game, Chalmers only committed one turnover. Overall, the Heat only had eight turnovers compared with 14 for the Nets.
Mirza Teletovic led the Nets with 20 points off the bench. Shaun Livingston had 15 points and Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce had 13 points each. Nets guard Deron Williams went scoreless.
“You’re looking at two teams with great versatility,” Spoelstra said.
A corner three-pointer by Chalmers put the defending back-to-back champs ahead 82-77 following a timeout and Allen followed with a three-pointer from the same exact spot seconds later to give the Heat an eight-point lead with 5:10 left. The quick 6-0 run in 47 seconds came after the Nets cut the Heat’s lead to 79-77. A brilliant cross-court, baseline pass by James found Chalmers in the corner to start the run.
“Just get it there,” James said of his thought process on the play. “If you throw that pass, just don’t hit the line.”
The Heat was outrebounded 43-36 but outshot the Nets 49.3 percent to 42.3. Miami was 10 of 24 from three-point range with Rashard Lewis contributing two from distance in a mostly sluggish first half for the home team. Norris Cole had five points off the bench, including a three-pointer.
A jumper by Bosh to begin the fourth quarter put the Heat ahead 71-67. It was the Heat’s largest lead of the game to that point, but Wade was just heating up. The Heat’s starting shooting guard scored six points in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter to give the Heat a 77-71 lead, and two more free throws by Wade gave him eight-straight points.
Allen, who scored 19 points in Game 1, had a pair of three-pointers sandwiched around a corner three-pointer by Teletovic to give the Heat a 64-61 lead with 2:32 left in the third quarter. A layup by Allen a minute later gave him 10 points in the third period.
It took an on-court scolding from and unlikely source to kick-start the Heat in the second quarter. After one lethargic play after another from his teammates, Chalmers started screaming for more energy. The Heat responded.
Chalmers led the way with four points inside and then Bosh had a block on one end and a three-pointer on the other. James then barreled his way inside to tie the game at 39-39 with 2:40 left in the first half.
“It was tough,” James said. “It was definitely rough in that first quarter. It felt like we couldn’t get out of first gear.”